ST. PAUL - The man killed in the Blaine Target parking lot Wednesday, Jan. 15, was run over while trying to get back items that were stolen from his St. Paul auto repair shop and being sold on Facebook Marketplace, according to charges filed Friday against the alleged hit-and-run driver.
Pierre Jerel Anderson, 30, of St. Paul, was charged in Anoka County District Court with second-degree murder (while committing a felony) and accused of running over Kenneth Alan Niesen, 58, of Brooklyn Park. Anderson was being held at Anoka County jail on Friday in lieu of $500,000 bail.
On Wednesday morning, Niesen discovered that someone had broken into Bonded Transmission Specialists, a University Avenue family business that his father, Walt, started in 1983.
Niesen reported the burglary to St. Paul police, telling an officer that the burglary happened either late Tuesday or early Wednesday and that several items were stolen.
Later, Niesen learned a number of them were for sale on Facebook Marketplace. Niesen and others arranged to meet up with the “seller” at the Target parking lot in Blaine at 1500 109th Ave. N.E., according to the criminal complaint.
What happened in the parking lot
Surveillance video shows Niesen and others arrived in two vehicles around 9:30 p.m. One car was parked in a back row. Anderson then arrived in a white GMC Yukon and parked next to the car, prompting one person to get out and look inside the SUV and see items “they believed had been taken in the burglary,” the complaint read.
Niesen and others pulled up in the second vehicle and partially blocked Anderson’s SUV. Several people approached the SUV, including Niesen, but Anderson drove around Niesen’s vehicle and rapidly accelerated, striking Niesen, who was standing in front of the driver’s side headlight, and running him over, the complaint alleges.
Niesen appeared to be run over by the front and rear tires of the SUV, charges say.
Witnesses gave police a description of the SUV and Anderson. Officers put out the description and a firefighter spotted the SUV headed north of the Target store.
Officers found the SUV at the Speedway on Constance Boulevard in Ham Lake and saw Anderson running from the store. With help from a police dog, officers found Anderson and took him into custody.
Anderson has a lengthy criminal record in Minnesota that dates back to 2007 and includes felony convictions for auto theft, simple robbery, possession of a pistol/assault weapon, possession of burglary/theft tools, theft and fleeing police in a motor vehicle. He has been convicted of driving after revocation 20 times.
'Dedicated family man'
Niesen died of his injuries Wednesday at Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids.
In a Friday statement, Niesen’s family described him as a “wonderful son, brother, husband, father, and friend to everyone he met. Ken was a dedicated family man.”
Niesen, who graduated from Park High School, enjoyed drag racing motorcycles, eventually competing several years on the National Hot Rod Association circuit. His two boys, Wyatt and Max, recently took up the sport.
“He cherished spending time watching his boys’ drag race at the same tracks’ where he raced,” the family’s statement read. “Ken loved motorcycle runs with his wife in the summer and snowmobile weekends in the winter with his family and friends.”
Niesen took pride in working alongside his father and brother, Korey, at the transmission shop, the family said.
“Words cannot express our grief,” the statement read. “The family is moved by all love and support they have received in the last few days — especially from the racing community.”
A GoFundMe page was set up Friday by friends to help the family pay for funeral expenses.