Moorhead, MN – A Minnesota State Patrol (MSP) trooper nearly lost his life on Monday, after he stopped to help a woman who ultimately pointed a gun at his head, and pulled the trigger.
The incident occurred a few miles east of Moorhead, after 30-year-old Melody Gray lost control of the vehicle she was driving just before 10:30 a.m., KVRR reported.
The vehicle spun, crashed into an interstate median, and landed in a ditch, where it was spotted by MSP Trooper Mark Peterson, MPR News reported.
The trooper stopped to help Gray and her passenger, 29-year-old Domonique Crayton, both of whom provided him with false names, the West Fargo Pioneer reported.
Their vehicle did not have proper plates, so Trooper Peterson noted its vehicle identification number (VIN), and returned to his patrol car to verify the information.
As he waited for details on the vehicle and its occupants, Gray and Crayton attempted to free the vehicle from the ditch, but were unsuccessful.
Trooper Peterson ran the VIN a second time, and learned that the damaged vehicle had been reported as stolen out of Wisconsin.
As a precaution, Trooper Peterson positioned his patrol car to block Gray’s vehicle from exiting, and approached the suspects.
The trooper asked Crayton to get out of the vehicle, and began to handcuff him, when Gray jumped out of the driver’s seat.
According to court documents, Gray extended her arm, pointed a 9mm handgun at Trooper Peterson, and pulled the trigger, MPR News reported.
When the weapon failed to fire, however, the trooper quickly pulled himself and Crayton backwards, using the back portion of the vehicle as a barrier.
Undeterred, Gray attempted to chamber another round, and raised her weapon again.
Gray took off on foot across the interstate, dropping her gun on the roadway as she fled into a field.
As the trooper handcuffed Crayton, a snowplow came by, and stopped approximately 50 yards past the scene.
Trooper Peterson left Crayton lying on his stomach on the ground, sprinted into the road, and recovered Gray’s gun from beneath the snowplow.
An off-duty 911 dispatcher rolled up on the scene, just as Crayton began to get up off of the ground. The dispatcher ordered him back on the ground, and held him there until Trooper Peterson returned.
Gray collapsed in the field, and was apprehended by officers from MSP, the Clay County Sheriff’s Office, and the Dilworth and Moorhead Police Departments, KVRR reported.
She remains hospitalized in Fargo, and her charges related to the incident are pending.
Crayton was being held at the Clay County Jail on charges of receiving stolen property, giving police a false name, and obstructing the legal process, MPR News reported.
He also kicked out the window of a squad car, resulting in an additional charge of damage to property, and was wanted out of Wisconsin on charges of kidnapping, human trafficking, sexual assault, and felon in possession of a firearm.
Gray was also wanted out of Wisconsin for kidnapping and felon in possession of a firearm.
During his initial contact with Trooper Peterson, Crayton insisted that his name was Donald Lamont Echols, the West Fargo Pioneer reported.
His true identity was determined after investigators spoke with authorities in Wisconsin.
During his court hearing on Wednesday, however, Crayton insisted that his name was Donald Moor El.
“I am not that person. That person is dead,” he repeatedly told the court, according to the West Fargo Pioneer. “You can’t be dealing with a person who is not here.”
He also informed the court that he had a talent for representing himself during legal proceedings, and argued that he belonged to a Moorish Nation of Islam, a sovereign citizen offshoot.
“How can your society represent me?” Crayton asked the judge, according to the West Fargo Pioneer. “I’m of a sovereign nation. How can I conduct business with you?”
Crayton asserted that his arrest actually constituted a kidnapping.
“Somebody abducted me!” he proclaimed to the court. “Somebody kidnapped me!”
Crayton’s next court hearing was scheduled for Mar. 16.
Trooper Peterson, a, 19-year veteran of the MSP, was uninjured during the altercation. He has been placed on administrative leave, as per protocol.