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The couple 'freaked him out' - so he ran them over with his van and drove off, police say

Jonna Kojo Armartey faces murder charges after allegedly striking a couple with his van and then fleeing. Police were able to identify him through a pill bottle they found in the car, after which he allegedly told police the couple 'freaked him out' and so he hit them.
Jonna Kojo Armartey faces murder charges after allegedly striking a couple with his van and then fleeing. Police were able to identify him through a pill bottle they found in the car, after which he allegedly told police the couple 'freaked him out' and so he hit them. Dakota County Sheriff's Office

Two people who were out on an evening stroll through Eagan, Minn., were hit by a van and killed on June 28 before the driver sped away, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported.

But police say it wasn't an accident. The driver allegedly told police the couple "freaked him out" and so he ran them over, KMSP reported.

"Clearly, it appears this vehicle was used as a weapon to cause the death of two innocent individuals," County Attorney James Backstrom told the Star-Tribune. "It's extremely tragic."

Police say they received a call about an alleged hit-and-run around 10 p.m. that evening. When they arrived, they found 74-year-old Roger Peterson and 57-year-old Diane Peterson lying on the ground barely breathing, according to WCCO. They were rushed to the hospital, where they were pronounced dead.

Surveillance video from a nearby business showed a minivan following the couple through the parking lot where they were hit, the Sun ThisWeek reported.

Witnesses told police they saw a minivan speed away from the scene, and a tip came in about a vehicle matching the description, according to a statement obtained by WCCO.

Officers found a Dodge Caravan in a restaurant parking lot with damage to its front and a cracked windshield, according to KMSP. Then they found Diane Peterson's cellphone wedged underneath the windshield wiper. Inside the car, they saw a pill bottle with the name Jonna Kojo Armartey on the label, according to the station.

Armatey was arrested and charged with two counts of second-degree murder, the Star-Tribune reported. He allegedly told police the couple "freaked him out," and that "he was going fast and he hit them hard," according to the paper.

Armatey and the Petersons did not know each other, police said, according to the Sun ThisWeek.

“These are individuals who appear to have been targeted simply at random. And that is something you never see," Dakota County Attorney Jim Backstrom told WCCO.

“I want to extend my condolences to this family. It’s got to be a very, very difficult day," Eagan deputy police chief Roger New said, according to the Sun ThisWeek.

Armatey had been in trouble with the law before, and had been civilly committed to a state hospital from June 2016 to December 2017, the Star-Tribune reported. He now remains in jail on a $2 million bond, according to the paper.

“It’s a terrible tragedy,” the Petersons' son Conrad Peterson told the Pioneer-Press. “But, I think if they could have had it any way, they would have wanted to go together.”

Anna Stahosky, another of the couple's children, told the paper she didn't believe it was true when she first heard the news.

“It’s unbelievable how many lives that they touched,” she told the Pioneer-Press. “They welcomed everyone into their home. It’s beyond belief how many people have come to us with their sympathies and condolences. It’s a resounding echo of the people that they were.”

Video shot by a motorcyclist shows a truck passing a group of motorcycles then hitting them at a stoplight. Wichita Police are investigating the incident.

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