Driver of stolen vehicle collides with Mounds View squad car


Ahmed Bahaa Abdelhafiz

Coon Rapids man charged with auto theft, fleeing peace officer

A high-speed chase in Mounds View the evening of July 7 led to a collision between the driver of a stolen vehicle and a Mounds View police officer in a squad car.

Mounds View Police Chief Nate Harder said in an interview that the officer, later identified by court documents as Sgt. Benjamin Zender, was taken to the hospital and released that same night. 

According to court documents, Zender suffered knee and shoulder injuries as a result of the crash. He will continue to be monitored.

The driver, Ahmed Bahaa Abdelhafiz of Coon Rapids, suffered only minor injuries, according to Harder. The 28-year-old has since been charged with felony auto theft and drug possession, as well as fleeing a police officer, and could face up to 15 years in prison.

The pursuit began at 6:22 p.m., when an officer attempted to stop a black sedan with no license plates in the area of Jackson Drive and Lambert Avenue. According to court documents, Abdelhafiz was going 56 mph in a 30 mph zone. At the time, officers were not aware that the vehicle was stolen.

As soon as the officer activated his squad car lights and siren, police say, the driver fled at high speeds through the residential neighborhood. 

Mounds View officers called off the pursuit, but continued to patrol the area. 

The vehicle was soon spotted near Pinewood Elementary School, at the intersection of Quincy Street and County Road I, according to the release. 

The driver again attempted to flee and struck Zender’s marked Mounds View squad car as he was making a U-turn at Quincy Street and Oakwood Drive. The point of impact was near the driver’s side door and the force was enough to spin the vehicle in a full circle, according to court documents.

The driver, identified as Abdelhafiz following arrest, then attempted to run and was caught by a Mounds View police K-9 team, police say.

According to court documents, officers found drug paraphernalia, numerous knives and swords, a stolen laptop, 16 keys to different vehicles and three different license plates — including one reported stolen — in the back of the sedan. 

A small bag of methamphetamine was also recovered at the scene, which police allege Abdelhafiz had removed from his pocket and thrown on the ground.

Officers later discovered that the car Abdelhafiz had been driving was registered to Kline Volvo in Maplewood. According to court documents, Abelhafiz had allegedly taken the car for a test drive on the dealership’s lot on July 1, then handed a key back in. 

Dealership staff told police it appeared Abdelhafiz must have switched out the key and then stole the sedan. According to court documents, one of the employees identified Abdelhafiz from a photo line-up as the test driver. 

Abdelhafiz has been convicted of several prior misdemeanors, including multiple moving violations, and two instances of domestic assault. He is set to appear in court on July 23.

 

–Bridget Kranz can be reached at bkranz@lillienews.com or 651-748-7825.

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