Jay Ernst, 27, of Lakeville, Minnesota, was arrested and charged with attempted murder on Thursday after trying to take his own life, including his two sons – aged 4 and 2 – by running his car in a closed garage, reported KARE 11. Lakeville police received a call around 1:45 a.m. about an attempted suicide; apparently, Ernst’s mother, whose name has been withheld, discovered the two boys – Dexter and Jason – with their father, “locked inside a running Ford Edge with the garage door closed.”
Lt. Bill Gerl stated that “The individual [Ernst] who ended up in the garage had mentioned to his mom that he was going out to listen to some music in a vehicle and then, after he hadn’t returned to the house for some time, she went to check on him.” That’s when his mother discovered her grandchildren inside of her Ford Edge with the “exhaust pipe and routed inside of the car.”
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When Ernst’s mother confronted him about the suicide attempt, he took off in his vehicle with his two sons, and she immediately alerted police. Family members say Ernst had been contemplating suicide within the past few days and believed he was going to take the lives of his sons as well. Therefore, an Amber alert was issued at approximately 4:30 a.m. but not long after an officer discovered the vehicle at Interstate 35E and County Road 42 and forced him to stop. However, Ernst refused to get out of his vehicle, and a scuffle ensued after the officer shattered the driver’s side window, attempting to get Ernst out the vehicle.
Ernst was later arrested and charged with attempted murder, and the two children were taken to a local hospital where they were examined by medical experts and later released to a relative after they “appeared to be in good health.” It was reported that Ernst is currently separated from his wife – whose name has been withheld – and was granted full custody of their two children. He also has a criminal record as far back as 2005, including “misdemeanor traffic, theft and property damage convictions.”
While in police custody, he admitted to asking his mother for her car keys and “hooking up the hose to the vehicle, inserting the other end into the vehicle’s window and then lying down in the back of the vehicle with his sons.” He also admitted to purposely driving off when she walked into the garage to check on them.
Although it may have looked like a suicide attempt, Ernst said he had no intentions of harming himself or his children. The stunt was simply a cry for help to address his addiction issue and marital problems. He wanted to join a treatment program and in order to do so, he claims he had to execute “something so extreme” in order to get assistance from Minnesota police, according to CBS Minnesota.
Dr. Dan Reidenberg, who is the executive director of Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE) said: “You don’t want to leave them [children] alone with somebody who is at risk like this because suicide can be a very impulsive act. It’s very rare..001 percent of suicides.”
“Family members need to take suicide warnings very seriously. Don’t wait, don’t think this mood will pass,” added Sue Abderholden, who is with the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Minnesota, stated that it is “rare that a person who is suicidal would try to harm others. It’s a very rare occurrence. Most suicide is just between the person and themselves…doesn’t involve other people.”
Jay Ernst is currently being held at Dakota county jail on two-counts of first-degree attempted murder. If he is found guilty, he could face up to 20 years for each charge.
[Image via CBS Minnesota YouTube screen capture]