|Minden librarian assists in capture|
|January 28, 2012 Lisa Betz|
Petr Strizheus, 18, of Harrisburg, S.D. was still at large.
MINDEN - Thanks to Minden librarian, Loni Johnson, Nebraskans can breathe easier knowing that a potentially dangerous criminal has been apprehended. News media received an alert from the Nebraska State Patrol at 8:06 a.m. this morning (Saturday, Jan. 28) about two men in a 2004 Subaru Impreza that were traveling at a high rate of speed on Interstate 80 just east of the Odessa exit. When the vehicle failed to stop for the trooper, a chase ensued, during which suspects fired upon the trooper.
The pursuit ended ½ mile north of the Fort Kearney Feedlot when the vehicle entered the east ditch and the two occupants fled on foot. A perimeter was established and a search began. Nebraska State Patrol (NSP) SWAT, Police Service Dog (PSD) units and the Aviation Support Division were called in.
Shortly after 2 a.m., the pilot of the NSP helicopter utilizing the Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) located a heat signature in a field near the feedlot. An NSP PSD team entered the field and located one of the suspects.
Aleksandr Voznyuk, 22, Sioux Falls, S.D. was taken into custody and lodged in the Buffalo County Detention Center.
A second suspect, Petr Strizheus, 18, Harrisburg, S.D. was still at large.
Just before 10 a.m., part-time Minden librarian Loni Johnson arrived at work to find a young man she described as “looking kind of rough” at the door. “He asked me if he could use the phone and said 'My engine blew and I don’t have my shoes on,'” said Johnson. “I asked him if it was a local number and he said it was 402. I told him I couldn’t let him use the library phone for long distance. Then he went to the computer and I showed him how to get signed on and went about my business.”
Johnson casually noticed that the man was on Facebook, and continued her duties until the library phone rang. The person on the line asked to speak with Petr Strizheus, who was the only one in the library at that time.
“He got on there and talked and I heard him tell somebody how they could get to Minden.” Still, Johnson thought little of it and went about her work.
Later, a friend of Johnson’s dropped by and they struck up a conversation about the fugitive. “I asked if they had caught him yet. My friend is the wife of the deputy sheriff, so I knew she would be informed,” said Johnson. “She said, no, not yet.”
The women talked for some time before the friend left. Then Johnson became suspicious, noting the scratches on the man’s face, the lack of shoes, and what looked like pieces of corn husks on his clothing.
Johnson decided to call her friend for an update on the fugitive. When she shared her observations about her patron’s appearance, her friend alerted her husband, the deputy sheriff. “He took over from there and got the cops here,” said Johnson. “They were able to come in and get me out of the building.” Johnson said they arrested Strizheus, and he didn’t even know they were there.
Johnson admitted that there isn’t usually so much excitement at the library. “I wasn’t scared, he was a young kid to me. He didn’t seem to be a threat,” she said. Strizheus’ appearance wasn’t in itself a concern to her, because she’d seen that before “but then, I slowly put it together.”
Johnson said they closed the library for the day after the arrest and it was only when she arrived home that she realized the danger she could have been in. The suspects were wanted for attempted homicide following a Friday, Jan. 26, carjacking in Brighton, Colo. in which shots were fired at the owner of the vehicle. “I got home and learned what he had done. I had to sit down for a minute. He isn’t the one who had the gun, the other guy had the gun, so that was a blessing” she said.