State troopers tried to stop the 27-year-old Kabaar Powell, of Richfield, for speeding on Interstate 94 on Monday, but he tried to flee, authorities said. He eventually got off the highway, tore through tennis courts and smashed into the playground near the Jenny Lind Elementary School on the city's north side, hitting young Kayden, Konnor and Lillianna Peltier and coming to a halt entangled in a swing set, they said.
Powell remained jailed without bail Tuesday on suspicion of criminal vehicular operation and fleeing police. Jail records didn't list an attorney for him. The Hennepin County attorney's office received an extension until noon Wednesday to charge or release him.
The children's aunt, Devin Brinkley, said 2-year-old Kayden was in critical condition heading into surgery at North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale on Monday night. She said Lillianna, 4, was in stable condition with bleeding on the brain and that Konnor, 3, was traumatized but had minor injuries.
"My sister's husband was there and watched his children get run over by a car. I can't imagine. I can't even fathom how I would feel," Brinkley said.
She said her sister, Nicolle Peltier, was taking a test at the school while her husband, Kyle, watched the children play outside. The family lives in St. Paul.
"To take them to the park and this happens to them? Oh lord. I just can't imagine," said their grandmother, Diana Peltier.
North Memorial spokeswoman Trudy Marshall said Tuesday that the hospital isn't releasing the children's conditions.
State Patrol Capt. Jason Bartell said at a news conference Monday that two troopers suffered minor injuries while apprehending Powell after he tried to run, and that a gun was found in his vehicle.
He said the troopers followed the agency's chase protocols, though he didn't go into detail about how they conducted the pursuit.
The agency's guidelines state that a chase should be discontinued when there's a "clear and unreasonable danger" to the trooper, fleeing motorist or other people. The guidelines also say troopers should give "strong and continuing consideration" to discontinuing the chase if the underlying violation is a misdemeanor or nonviolent felony and it's possible to identify the suspect and arrest him later.
Department of Public Safety spokesman Doug Neville said Powell hasn't had a valid driver's license since 2014. In 2015, Powell was convicted of driving with a suspended license, and he has earlier convictions dating back to 2010 for speeding and twice for not having the proper type of license.
An earlier version of this story was corrected to reflect that Devin Brinkley is a woman, not a man.
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