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UPDATE: Teen apprehended in Minnesota

Authorities released this image of Cole Laird, the teen suspected in a series of incidents around western Wisconsin on Monday and stemming a manhunt. (Submitted image)

The manhunt for a teenager suspected in a string of incidents across western Wisconsin is over.

Polk and St. Croix County authorities announced Tuesday morning that the suspect, 14-year-old Cole Laird, was taken into custody following a police chase when he crashed a vehicle in Forest Lake, Minn., overturning several times. He was able to climb out on his own and was arrested at gunpoint, according to Anoka County radio traffic.

The situation put Star Prairie area residents on high alert overnight.

The St. Croix County Sheriff’s Office in a Facebook message Monday night urged residents near the St. Croix-Polk county line to lock their doors and to stay inside. Area residents also reported receiving Code Red alerts communicating a similar message.

The suspected threat stemmed from several violent incidents allegedly involving Laird Monday, beginning in Eau Claire.

In a joint statement, St. Croix and Polk county authorities said Laird was suspected of stealing a vehicle in Eau Claire Monday afternoon.

Laird allegedly made his way to Woodville, where authorities say he attempted an armed burglary using a handgun.

He fled the Woodville home as officers closed in and continued on to New Richmond, the news release states. He allegedly failed to stop for officers there and a high-speed chase followed.

Laird allegedly ditched the stolen vehicle Star Prairie and fled the area on foot.

Shortly after St. Croix deputies established a perimeter with help from a Polk County deputy and several New Richmond officers, a canine followed a track to a vacant cabin. Officers got permission to enter the building, deploying flash-bang grenades to try and distract anyone inside.

A short time later, a neighboring homeowner reported a Chevrolet Venture van was missing.

As evening light waned, several officers reported hearing one or two gunshots in the distance.

Laird was believed to be on foot again, according to the statement.

The manhunt continued throughout the night near the east side of Cedar Lake on the Polk-St. Croix boundary.

Law enforcement appeared to be organizing a larger effort with help from Pierce County when word was received Laird was in custody.

Audio from the police chase that ended when Laird crashed the stolen van can be heard here:

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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