Driver accused of plowing into Minneapolis protesters has five prior DWIs

A Minnesota man suspected of driving into a crowd of protesters, killing one and injuring three others, has five prior drunken-driving convictions and didn’t have a license, records show.

Nicholas D. Krause, 35, of St. Paul, was identified Tuesday by Minneapolis police as the suspect who plowed his Jeep into a group of people late Sunday.

The group was protesting the shooting death of a fugitive, 32-year-old rapper Winston Boogie Smith, who allegedly fired a gun at authorities as they attempted to arrest him earlier this month.

Krause, who reportedly has DWI convictions in Minnesota dating back to 2008, was arrested on suspicion of criminal vehicular homicide at the crash scene, where protesters pulled him from the vehicle and began hitting him, police said.

Investigators have yet to say whether they believe Krause intentionally targeted the protesters, but said in an earlier statement Monday that the “use of drug or alcohol by the driver” may have been a contributing factor.

Records obtained by the Star Tribune indicate Krause, who remains jailed without bail, had his license canceled in 2013 following a DWI conviction.

Still, Krause was convicted of driving under the influence again, despite a canceled license, with his fifth and most recent conviction in Anoka County in 2016, the newspaper reported.

The victim who died in Sunday’s crash has been identified by relatives as Deona M. Knajdek, a 31-year-old Minneapolis mother of two who worked as a manager at a group care home. She would have turned 32 on Wednesday, the Star Tribune reported.

Krause admitted “several times” to authorities to being the driver of the Jeep without being asked, according to a search warrant affidavit obtained by KARE.

He also told Minneapolis police that his name was “Jesus Christ” and “Tim Burton,” adding that he had been a carpenter for 2,000 years and wanted to take his children to the Super Bowl, the affidavit states.

A nearby camera captured the crash and showed the driver not appearing to brake before hitting another vehicle, owned by Knajdek, that struck several protesters, including her, the station reported.

The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office said it expects to formally charge Krause by midday Wednesday, the Star Tribune reported.

One activist at the protest, Donald Hooker Jr., said he saw the deadly accident and disputed the witness account relayed by police that some people at the scene struck the driver while pulling him from the Jeep.

“He was going real fast, and he sped up the closer he got to the barricades,” Hooker told the Star Tribune. “He got out of the car, and he tried to run … This was an attack. It was on purpose.”

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