A vigil was scheduled to be held Sunday night for two teenage boys killed when the car they were in crashed in the front yard of a Maplewood home after a police pursuit.
Although officials had not released the names of the teens as of Sunday, family members identified them as Marcos Paramo, 14, and Alyjah Thomas, 15.
The two-minute-long pursuit began about 3:40 p.m. Friday when a Ramsey County sheriff’s deputy spotted a stolen car and attempted to pull the driver over near North Beebe Road and East Holloway Avenue, just east of Goodrich Golf Course, according to the Ramsey County sheriff’s office.
The driver didn’t stop, authorities said, and the deputy lost sight of the car as it fled westbound on Larpenteur Avenue. The deputy next saw the car crashed in a yard near the intersection of Larpenteur and Chamber Street, just east of Lake Phalen.
Following the crash, three occupants of the car ran away. Two — Paramo and Thomas — remained inside the vehicle. They were critically injured and later died. Two of the three who ran away were found and arrested.
As of Sunday, authorities had not reported finding the third person.
People visiting a memorial at the crash scene Sunday said the big question is why officers don’t terminate pursuits when they can become dangerous.
A man who identified himself only as an uncle to Thomas said that it didn’t make sense that the pursuit took place in a residential neighborhood right when school got out and children were getting off the bus at bus stops. He said his nephew was in the car getting a ride home from school with a friend.
Last year after Sheriff Bob Fletcher live-streamed on Facebook his pursuit of a stolen vehicle that ended in an arrest, he was criticized by Ramsey County commissioners.
Fletcher pointed out in a Facebook post that his office allowed pursuit of stolen vehicles with the caveat that each officer had to weigh the dangers and risks of continuing a pursuit. He noted that if suspects think “they will get away” if they flee then authorities have “no chance of reducing crime.”
During Fletcher’s Live on Patrol Facebook stream Friday night about 9:30 p.m. he said he wouldn’t be broadcasting as usual because of the crash. He dedicated about 25 minutes of the livestream to talking about the crash, saying he was “personally devastated’ by the deaths because he knew one of the deceased.
In a WCCO article, Paramo’s mother, Tanya Gile, said her family had been at the State Fair the day before the crash with Fletcher, who was a “family friend.”
Fletcher started livestreaming his Friday night patrols in July 2020 to build trust in the community and foster transparency. He said he wanted to give people an unvarnished view of law enforcement’s work because of the anti-police sentiment that he said he and others have been feeling since George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis police custody on Memorial Day.
On Friday, Fletcher was patrolling as he did most Fridays with his long-time friend, part-time crime analyst Pat Scott, in the squad car.
During the livestream, Fletcher said the stream would be cut short that night.
“We’re not going to stay live tonight and I apologize for that. but there’s no way we can go about our work the way we normally do, and give honor to the deceased parties, two deceased parties, one of which we know well.”
Fletcher said the deputy pursuing the stolen vehicle had already lost sight of it when it crashed.
“It’s devastating when anyone loses their life. It’s tragic when it’s in a situation where someone is driving reckless in a stolen car. Now having said that, there were six people in the car, three of them with auto theft histories,” Fletcher said.
Two GoFundMe pages were set up Sunday to raise funds for the boys’ funerals.
“Alyjah was the type of boy, that even when over 6 feet tall would snuggle up next to his mom, grandma, or aunties and rest his head on their shoulder sometimes asking for a head massage. Before he died, he told his mom he missed his grandma and wanted to see her that weekend. Affectionate, impossibly funny, and sometimes troublesome, he was impossible not to love. His mere presence brought so much joy, warmth, and light,” his great aunt, Rebecca Wunderlich, wrote on a GoFundMe page she set up for his funeral expenses.
“Alyjah was one of the sweetest kids I have ever met. He was always polite, helpful, and always thoughtful. We will always remember him for the chortles and laughter that would uproar from the get-togethers that the boys shared,” another person wrote on the page.
A similar GoFundMe page was started by Tanya Gile, the mother of Marcos Paramo.
“He took a ride from school with his friends and never made it home. Marcos was a good kid and had an amazing smile and sense of humor. He enjoyed playing sports. He was going to be on the football team this year. Our family is devastated. This was so unexpected and we are still in shock,” Gile wrote.
No further details about the driver of the car or the investigation were available Sunday.