By Bethany Wesley
Bemidji Pioneer 

Redby fugitive rearrested


REDBY – Ten weeks after he escaped police custody, Jason Lee King has been rearrested and is facing federal charges for a December robbery at Newby’s Market in Bemidji.

Local, state and federal agencies had been seeking the 21-year-old Redby man since he escaped police custody Feb. 21 at the Sanford Bemidji Medical Center.

An indictment, unsealed Wednesday in Minneapolis, charges King with interfering with commerce by robbery, using a firearm during a crime of violence, being a felon in possession of a firearm and possessing an unregistered sawed-off shotgun.

If convicted, the most serious charge – brandishing a firearm during a violent crime – carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.

Red Lake Department of Public Safety officers arrested King following a high-speed pursuit south of Redby.

Red Lake police responded to a 6:30 p.m. call involving a suspicious vehicle, according to a press release. The vehicle, with four occupants, fled from police along Green Lake Road. Once stopped, two occupants fled on foot into the woods. Red Lake officers gave chase and apprehended them.

The men were identified as King and 22-year-old Andrew Oakgrove, who allegedly had been driving the suspect vehicle that evening, according to the release.

Identifying King was not a simple task. Before, when he was held in Beltrami County Jail, he had floppy black hair with a dark mustache and goatee.

Those facial features were no longer visible, said Beltrami County Sheriff Phil Hodapp. Police actually needed to use tattoos on his body to identify him.

William Brunelle, the director of the Red Lake Department of Public Safety, said the four Red Lake officers who responded to the vehicle call had no initial suspicions that King was involved with the reckless vehicle.

Brunelle said he “definitely” is proud of the work his officers did in arresting King and Oakgrove.

“It’s a benefit to Red Lake as well,” he said, noting that King and Oakgrove both are suspects in at least two armed robberies in Red Lake.

King now is in Sherburne County Jail in Elk River, Minn., facing federal crimes. Sherburne County has an agreement to house pre-trial detainees for the U.S. Marshal’s Office and Immigrations Custom Enforcement.

He also will face the Beltrami County felony charge of first-degree aggravated robbery, for which he had had been in Beltrami County Jail awaiting trial when he escaped custody on Feb. 21.

That day he appeared in a hearing at 9 a.m. that day in the Beltrami County Courthouse for the Newby’s Market robbery Dec. 30.

According to previous reports:

In the afternoon, King was escorted from Beltrami County Jail for a medical appointment at Sanford Bemidji. He was shackled and not handcuffed.

King allegedly managed to slip from the shackles and ran off, across the hospital campus. At one point, he lost a shoe.

Bemidji and Beltrami County police tracked him in the snow to a residence on Irvine Avenue, from which he allegedly stole a red pickup and headed north out of Bemidji.

A Red Lake police officer saw the pickup enter the reservation on state Highway 89, north of Bemidji, and gave chase. King drove 90 mph, forcing other vehicles off the road, going to Redby then ending up on forest trails on the southern reaches of the reservation. He crashed the truck and ran into the woods near the south boundary of the reservation.

Despite a manhunt involving tribal, local, state and federal agencies, King remained on the lam for 10 weeks.

“We think he was on Red Lake hiding out the entire time,” Hodapp said.

“We looked for him several times,” Brunelle said. “Things never panned out.”

Immediately following King’s arrest Monday night, he was held in the Red Lake detention center. The U.S. Marshalls arrived Tuesday morning and took custody of him, Brunelle said.

King made his first appearance in federal court Wednesday.

King faces four federal charges, including:

E Count One: Interference with commerce by robbery. The indictment alleges that King on Dec. 30 robbed Newby’s, taking $1,476 in cash and checks by threatened force.

E Count 2: Use of a firearm during a crime of violence. The indictment alleges that King used, carried and brandished a Remington 870 express, 20-guage sawed-off shotgun in the robbery of Newby’s.

E Count 3: Felon in possession of a firearm. Previously, King was convicted in Beltrami County in 2009 for kidnapping to facilitate felony or flight and second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon.

E Possession of an unregistered sawed-off shotgun. The indictment alleges that King possessed the Remington sawed-off shotgun, with a barrel less than 18 inches in length, which was not registered to him.

King’s next appearance is set for 2:30 p.m. May 7.


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