Bogdan Vechirko has been named as the truck driver accused of driving a tanker truck through a crowd of protesters in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on the I-35W bridge. No protesters were injured.
However, the governor now says it is believed the driver was confused and that he did try to brake. He got ahead of traffic officials closing the road, and it appears he didn’t mean to hurt anyone, officials say. They also say he did not go around barricades.
“We don’t have any information that makes this seem like this was an intentional act,” Minnesota Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said. “It wasn’t that he went around the barricades to get to the protest.”
Jail records for Hennepin County show that Vechirko is 35 years old and was taken into custody at 8:58 p.m. on May 31. His address is given as Otsego, Minnesota. Campaign finance records, which you can see later in this article, show that he has donated money to support President Donald Trump and the Republican National Committee. Here’s his jail booking record:
Vechirko is being held without bail and was arrested for assault. KTSP-TV reported that authorities had confirmed that Vechirko was the trucker in question.
Here’s what you need to know:
Protesters Pulled Vechirko From the Tanker Truck
Crowds of protestors in the road parted suddenly as a giant tanker truck drove quickly toward them. Protesters then surrounded the truck.
“Very disturbing actions by a truck driver on I-35W, inciting a crowd of peaceful demonstrators. The truck driver was injured & taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries. He is under arrest. It doesn’t appear any protesters were hit by the truck. #MACCMN,” the Minnesota Department of Public Safety wrote on Twitter.
Protesters then chased the man’s truck down the street, eventually climbing on it and yanking him out the door, where he was surrounded, and chaos ensued.
Police eventually got Vechirko out of the crowd. DPS Commissioner John Harrington told CBS Minnesota that about 5,000 to 6,000 people were on the bridge when the truck came through. The interstate was closed. “It was one of the most dangerous things I’ve ever seen,” Harrington said, according to the television station.
Vechirko Worked for a Trucking Company as an Independent Contractor
According to KTSP, Vechirko is an independent contractor who was working for Ken Advantage, a trucking company.
“Our hearts go out to all those who are grieving the events of this past week,” read part of a statement issued by the company, according to the television station, which added that the company is cooperating “fully with the investigation.”
Authorities announced: “The Minnesota State Patrol and Bureau of Criminal Apprehension are jointly investigating what happened with the semi that drove into demonstrators tonight on I-35W. The incident is being investigated as a criminal matter. We will share more when we have it.”
Vechirko Gave Money to Support Trump & the Republican National Committee
Records show Vechirko gave $100 to the “Trump Make America Great Again Committee.” He was listed as not employed. The donation came in October 2019, according to federal campaign finance donation information. According to Trump’s campaign donation page, “Trump Make America Great Again Committee … is a joint fundraising committee composed of Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. and the Republican National Committee.”
The FEC site also says that Vechirko twice donated to the Republican National Committee in 2018, in the amounts of $115 and $100.
The protest he’s accused of driving through was in memory of George Floyd, the Minneapolis man who died after a Minneapolis police officer restrained him with a knee to the neck. That officer, Derek Chauvin, has been fired and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter; three other officers at the scene have also lost their jobs. Protests and riots subsequently broke out in Minneapolis and throughout the country.
A man named Zachary Donald wrote on Twitter, “Today I witnessed pure evil. Thousands and thousands of protestors were PEACEFULLY marching the streets to demand #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd and a gas truck came barreling through the crowd. Pray to whoever you pray to for us all. #BlackLivesMatterMinneapolis #blacklivesmatter.”
Vechirko Has a Criminal History in Minnesota
Vechirko has a criminal history in Hennepin County.
In the most serious case, he was accused of “emergency telephone calls – communicate interfere with 911 call” and domestic assault, a misdemeanor in which the defendant was accused of committing an act “to cause fear of immediate bodily harm or death.” Court records say he ended up being convicted only of disorderly conduct in that case.
He was also accused of failing to display registration on a snowmobile, seatbelt required of driver and failure to produce proof of insurance.
He has no criminal history in the county where he’s listed as currently living.