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May 5, 2008

Two Teens Shot at After Nearby Cinco de Mayo Celebration

Two teens were wounded by gunfire in St. Paul Saturday night, as the city's Cinco de Mayo celebrations were ending nearby.
A 14-year-old boy is in critical condition after being shot in the back, reported the Pionner Press. The boy was taken to Regions Hospital and was later transferred to the intensive care unit of Children's Hospital.
At second shooting happened shortly after in a nearby building. A 17-year-old boy was shot in the leg and taken and released from Regions Hospital, reported Kare 11 News.
Police did not release the names of the two victims.
The shootings happened around 6:45 p.m. as the Cinco de Mayo festivities were ending and the crowd was dispersing, reported Kare 11 News.
Police have taken five people into custody for questioning regarding this case. No arrests have been made.
Police detained 15 people in the area for questioning, using a Metro Transit bus to hold everyone, reported the Pioneer Press. Many of the detainees were angry and yelled at police for holding them.
Police said they sometimes use a bus for witnesses in order to contain them and keep them comfortable until them can be questioned, reported the Pioneer Press.
This case is in the early stages of the investigation and detectives from the Homicide unit are gathering evidence and interviewing over 40 possible witnesses, reported Kare 11 News.

May 4, 2008

Suicidal Man Dies By Taser

A suicidal man died Sunday after fighting with police and eventually being Tased.
The police and paramedics were called to the scene of a suicide in progress, where they encountered a 21-year-old male who appeared to be using a controlled substance, reported the Star Tribune.
The man attacked the two officers who were trying to calm him down. The officers sprayed a chemical irritant, which had no effect on the man, reported the Star Tribune.
The man began to bite the two officers, forcing to deploy a Taser in order to restrain him, according to the release, reported WCCO News.
The man became unresponsive and was pronounced dead at the scene of the crime.
Both officers bitten by the suspect were treated and released at Regions Hospital. The Crimes Against Persons unit is investigating the incident.

April 21, 2008

Two Minneapolis Police Officers Relieved of Duty Pending Investigation

Two long-standing Minneapolis police officers have been relieved of duty pending the results of a FBI investigation.
Lt. Lee Edwards and officer Mike Roberts have been put on paid administrative leave due to the current investigation. Roberts is a veteran officer who has been on the force nearly three decades. Edwards is one of five black officers suing the police department over allegations of racial discrimination, reported the Star Tribune.
The details of the investigation are unknown, but sources say an investigation has been going on since last year, reported WCCO News.
Lt. Lee Edwards was told of the investigation Friday night and told WCCO Saturday morning, "I did nothing wrong."
Edwards had been the head of the fourth precinct. Before that, he was the head of homicide. He was demoted from the position last year after being accused of drinking before driving his police car and making inappropriate sexual comments. Edwards was eventually cleared of the drinking charge. He is currently one of three finalists for the Northfield police chief job.
Roberts allegedly received $200 for giving information to an undercover informant, according to sources with knowledge of the case, reported the Star Tribune. The allegations against Edwards are still unclear.
On Thursday Roberts was sent to deliver a package to FBI headquarters where he was then taken by investigators and questioned.
Andrew Muller, a lawyer representing Edwards in the racial discrimination suit, said the current allegations are baseless. There is no connection between Edwards and Roberts, he said.
"The intent of the allegations against Lt. Edwards can only be to punish and intimidate those on the MPD who speak out against discrimination," Muller said. "Mayor Rybak seems content to let Chief Dolan run roughshod, and to let him do as he pleases, without concern for how it will impact the city and race relations within its departments."
Special Agent Paul McCabe said he will not confirm or deny a FBI investigation of two Minneapolis officers, reported WCCO News. It is standard FBI policy not to comment.

April 20, 2008

Father Kills Son in Turkey Hunting Accident

An 8-year-old boy was killed Saturday during a hunting accident after his father mistook him a wild turkey and shoot him in the chest, authorities said.
Hunter Klaseus, who was to turn 9 at the end of April, was pronounced dead at the scene while hunting with his father, Anthony Klaseus, reported Kare 11 News.
"It's a tragedy, an absolute tragedy," said Sibley County Sheriff Bruce Ponath.
The Klaseus' were hunting in a plowed farm field in Faxon Township, near Belle Plaine, said Sheriff Bruce Ponath, reported the Star Tribune.
Klaseus told his son to stay on the edge of the field, as he snuck closer to the turkeys. Klaseus made his way into some woods when Hunter decided he would catch up with his dad, Ponath said.
Hunter was about 20 yards away from his dad when Klaseus mistook him for a turkey and fired his 12-gauge shotgun at Hunter, Ponath said.
Hunter was shot once in the chest. Klaseus called 911 on his cell phone and then carried Hunter about a quarter of a mile to meet emergency responders where he was pronounced dead, reported Kare 11 News.
"That family is going through very hard times right now," Ponath said.
Both father and son were wearing camouflage instead of blaze orange, which is legal for turkey hunting. Klaseus does not have a hunting license, Ponath said. The incident is under investigation and no charges have been filed yet.

April 14, 2008

Former Gopher Charged with Sexual Conduct

Former University of Minnesota football player Dominic Jones was convicted of unwanted sexual conduct, but cleared of rape charges on Friday.
Jones, who is still attending the university, yet no longer plays football for the Gophers, was charged and convicted of third-degree criminal sexual conduct, which involves performing a sex act on a victim without her consent, reported the Pioneer Press. The jury found Jones not guilty of third-degree criminal sexual conduct charges or rape, which involves penetration.
During the weeklong trial, jurors saw cell-phone video that appeared to show Jones masturbating over the woman. The 30-second video ended with Jones smiling at the camera and a shot showing a white substance on the unresponsive woman's face.
Jones, 21, denied penetrating the woman. He testified in his own defense that the woman had consented to being masturbated on. Prosecutors said the woman had passed out after heavy drinking and could not give her consent.
Fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct is a felony, but defense attorney Earl Gray said the state's sentencing guidelines call for a 24-month suspended sentence. Gray said that Jones could be sent to prison for a year, but would likely get work release and be out sooner, reported the Star Tribune.
He would have to register as a sex offender.
Gray intends to appeal the verdict and seek a second trial. He said the evidence excluded at trial goes to the heart of the charge with which Jones was convicted.
The defense was not allowed to call a sexual behavior expert or present evidence of the woman having sex with other men that night. Also the handling of evidence was called into question, with a lot of the evidence going into the same bag.
The testimonies included the victim who said that she got into a vodka shot-drinking contest with former Gopher player, Robert McField. She said she remembered nothing of the evening beyond falling asleep on the couch and waking the next morning with a white substance on her face. She washed it off, went home and to work.
McField, who is now serving 12 years in a Missouri prison for armed robbery, testified he saw what he thought was Jones having sexual intercourse with the woman, but that he did not actually see penetration, reported the Pioneer Press.
Jurors began deliberations late Wednesday and by mid-afternoon Thursday had acquitted Jones of the more serious charge, according to their verdict form, reported the Star Tribune. They reached a verdict of guilty at midday Friday on the lesser charge. The jury quickly decided the act Jones performed was "humiliating and demeaning" to the woman, but not "cruel."
"I feel like the storm is almost over now. ... Hopefully this won't be the lasting impression that people have of me," Jones said afterward, reported the Pioneer Press.
Gray said Jones "absolutely" plans to appeal because key evidence was kept out the trial.
"The next time we try it, we will be able to give the jury a full picture of what happened that night," Gray said, reported the Star Tribune.

Archbishop Tutu Spoke at a North High School

Archbishop Desmond Tutu spoke at Minneapolis' North High School Saturday at a peace conference for youth activists.
Tutu, who is a Nobel Peace Prize laureate known for his fight to overturn apartheid in South Africa and as an avid peacemaker, was in the Twin cities with his daughter Naomi for a PeaceJam conference put on by the local nonprofit "youthrive," reported the Star Tribune.
It was important for Tutu to come to this neighborhood of Minnesota which is one of the state's most troubled neighborhoods. Tutu spoke of peace in a community that had 27 homicides in 2007, reported the Star Tribune.
"Each one of us has great potential," Tutu said. "I have been quite awed ... quite struck by the incredible things that you do, that young people do."
The organizers are hoping that his presence will help jump-start a movement to take a stand against the community's problems.
"I want to see how much progress we can make," said 16-year-old Destinee Dozier, a student at Minneapolis' Edison High School. "We're trying as hard as we can to make some peace out here."
Some residents from North Minneapolis point out that change is already underway. In 2007, the city's Fourth Precinct saw promising decreases in violent crime from 2006.
After Tutu spoke at North High School, he and his daughter engaged the audience in spirited dialog on how to promote peace, reported Polar News. Then, parents, dignitaries, government representatives and guests held lively discussions about the Student Service Peace Projects that were being held.
The day continued with a Peace March to the nearby Cub Foods where free food was distributed to the needy people from the neighborhood, reported Polar News.
"This is your home, and you want it to be a community to be proud of," Naomi Tutu said Saturday in the parking lot of Cub Foods, reported the Star Tribune. "You want to be able to say, 'I am from north Minneapolis,' and say it with pride."

April 7, 2008

Fire on Stout Campus Kills Three

Three students died in a fire that swept through a two-story duplex near the University of Wisconsin - Stout campus on Saturday.
April C. Englund, 21, of West St. Paul, Amanda (Mandy) Jean Rief, 20, of Chaska, Scott A. Hams, 23, of Hayward, Wis., were all students at Stout, reported the Star Tribune.
All three victims appeared to have died of smoke inhalation, police Lt. Wendy Stelter said, reported WCCO News.
Firefighters arrived minutes after the 3:32 a.m. call, but the victims, who were found in separate second-floor bedrooms, were pronounced dead at a hospital. Neighbors heard a smoke detector blaring, but firefighters said they didn't know why the victims didn't leave.
Authorities have said Englund was the only victim who lived in the unit, and Rief and Hams were sleeping over because Englund's roommates had left town, reported WCCO News.
"We believe it was nothing but a horrific and tragic accident," Chief Dennis Beety said, but he declined to discuss further details.
Battalion Fire Chief Denny Klass declined to comment Sunday on what may have ignited the blaze or other details, saying officials are waiting to get a report from the state fire marshal who investigated the matter along with the Menomonie police and fire departments.
Invesitgators believe the fire was accidental, though toxicology reports will not be completed for about a month. Beety did say that a bottle of alcohol was found with the top off of it, but that it didn't mean the students were drinking at the house.
Stout Chancellor Charles Sorensen said the school has set up a counseling center for students. There will likely be a campus memorial in the coming days, he said.
University of Wisconsin-Stout is a school of 8,400 students is about 70 miles east of Minneapolis.

April 6, 2008

Bus Crash on I-94 Leaves One Dead and Many Injured

One student died and dozens others were injured Saturday morning after the bus carrying band students home from a trip to Chicago flipped over on Interstate 94 in Albertville.
Jessica Weishair, 16, was pronounced dead at the scene, reported the Pioneer Press. The bus was one of two buses carrying students from Pelican Rapids High School back from a four-day cultural tour of Chicago.
The students were traveling through the night when the bus flipped over around 5:48 a.m., according to State Patrol dispatcher Tom Aspling. The cause of the crash wasn't immediately determined.
Rescuers spent hours prying students out of the wreckage, reported the Star Tribune. Some who were pinned under the bus or thrown from it were taken by ambulance and helicopter to nearby hospitals.
The bus was carrying 43 students, four chaperones, a tour director and the driver. The second bus also carrying band members was not involved in the accident.
Most of the injuries were "bumps and bruises," and the majority of the bus occupants were able to walk, Mercy Hospital spokeswoman Gloria O'Connell said, reported the Pioneer Press. Everyone else taken to Mercy Hospital was treated and released, O'Connell said.
The students from the second bus were taken to a Catholic church in Albertville, according to the school's Web site. A bus was scheduled to pick them up and take them back home to Pelican Rapids, where parents were waiting for them at the high school.
The buses left Chicago at 10 p.m. Friday from a comedy club the group attended, reported the Star Tribune. They were traveling through the night and expected to return to Pelican Rapids at 10 a.m. Saturday, said Superintendent Deb Wanek..
"They said it was dark and that they were all asleep," said Gloria O'Connell, spokeswoman for Allina Hospitals & Clinics. "They woke up when the bus crashed, and the paramedics showed up really fast."
Welshair, who was killed in the crash, had receently turned 16, had started driving and had just been hired at the Cenex gas station in Pelican Rapids.
In a statement, the Weishairs expressed gratitude "for the love, concern and respect that has been offered to us in the sudden death of our precious Jessica." They added: "Even though we are struggling with our grief, we hold in our thoughts those who have been injured and all the students, staff, chaperones and their families who were involved in the band trip."
The bus, owned by Richards Transportation Service in Moorhead, was driven by Loren D. Ernst, 69, of Moorhead, the State Patrol said. Co-owner Jay Richards said the driver had joined the firm last year after spending years driving semitrailer trucks and other heavy equipment. Ernst was treated for injuries and released, the patrol said.
"He is an experienced driver," said a shaken Richards. The accident death was the first for the 30-year-old firm, he said.

March 31, 2008

High-speed Chase Ends with Gunfire

A man suspected of robbing a bank early Friday led police on a high-speed chase throughout the Twin Cities suburbs before crashing his car and shotting at police.
Authorities believ this man was involved with several other bank robberies within the west metro, reported the Star Tribune.
The chase began at 6:45 a.m. in St. Anthony, where police say the suspect robber a TCF at gunpoint and began the police chase reaching speeds of up to 100 mph.
Officers from numerous agencies joined the chase as it moved through Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park and down Interstate 494 in Maple Grove and Plymouth, reported the Star Tribune.
Plymouth Police Captain Dan Plekkenpol said the chase came to an end at Interstate 494 and state Highway 55, reported MPR. A Brooklyn Park squad car performed a "PIT maneuver" and spun out the suspect's car to end the chase at 7:20 a.m. The suspect began shooting at police officers, before being taken to the North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale.
"The suspect was not killed, the suspect is down at the hospital right now, and what we're hearing initially from the hospital, the information is that he, he's going to be going to be OK so, it doesn't sound like it's a fatal shooting or going to be a fatal situation," Plekkenpol said.
This robbery and its suspect are similar to those described in a March 13 news release from the FBI about an armed, masked, lone gunman who robbed a TCF Bank in St. Louis Park, reported the Star Tribune. That release connected the man to several other bank robberies, including the Jan. 11 and Nov. 2 armed robberies of the same TCF Bank on Silver Lake Road in St. Anthony.
TCF Bank Spokesman Jason Korstange said the St. Anthony branch was not open at the time of the incident Friday, and the three employees reporting for work were not hurt.
Traffic cameras captured most of the high-speed chase. The suspect was seen throwing bags of money out of the car during the chase.
Plekkenpol said three Plymouth police officers were put on paid administrative leave, which is standard procedure when officers are involved in a shooting.
Federal charges should come next week, FBI Special Agent Paul McCabe said.

March 29, 2008

Dog Bites 70-year-old Woman and Kills Her Dog

A 70-year-old woman out on a walk with her 2-year-old grandson was bitten by a pit bull mix Wednesday after attempting to save her dog from the pit bull's attack.
Margaret Johnston, who lives in Inver Grove Heights, wrestled with the dog for five minutes while trying to save her own pet, Schultzie, an 11-pound miniature schnauzer, from the dog's killing bite, reported the Star Tribune. The result was a bite on Johnston's right leg and Schultzie dead.
Police believe a dog picked up Friday and confined in a pound is the same one involved in the attack. The dog police seized late Friday will be quarantined for 10 days at the South St. Paul Animal Hospital. After reviewing its history, they'll decide whether to kill it.
Johnston is undergoing a lengthy series of rabies vaccination shots for a bite to her right leg.
As Johnston was walking with Schultzie, two neighbor girls and her grandson, Hunter, the pit bull mix came up from behind them and attacked her dog, reported the Star Tribune. Then the pit bull mix turned its attention to Johnston and pounced on her, sending them both down a hill. She punched the dog several times.
As the neighbor girls, who were on spring break from elementary school, came to her aid, the dog fled through a a Cub Foods parking lot.
Johnston described 13-year-old Schultzie "as a real gentle dog, a quiet, little dog" who would eat crackers out of Hunter's little hands. "He loved to go for walks."
The pit bull mix weighs about 50 pounds and was wearing a bright-colored canvas collar, reported KSTP News.

March 26, 2008

Rocori High Students Sent to Hospital after Chlorine Leak

At least 33 students and one adult at Rocori High School were injured when chlorine gas leaked from the school's pool area on Wednesday, Cold Spring Mayor Doug Schmitz said, reported the Star Tribune.
The severity of the injuries is not clear, yet most of the injuries seem to be respiratory, Stearns County Chief Deputy Bruce Bechtold said.
The leak was discovered before 2 p.m. and the building was evacuated, Bechtold said.
Victims were taken to Paynesville Hospital and St. Cloud Hospital, reported the St. Cloud Times. St. Cloud Hospital set up a decontamination tent outside the Emergency Trauma Center to treat patients.
Jeff Kalla of Gold Cross Ambulance operations said all of the patients reported nausea and respiratory issues, but everyone was able to walk out of the building on their own.
The problem began in the school's pool area, where nearly 20 students saw bubbles coming out of the pool drain, then became sick shortly after, Rocori Public Schools Superintendent Scott Staska told WJON-AM, reported the Star Tribune.
Emergency crews were called at 1:41 p.m. for two people reporting difficulty breathing, Mayor Schmitz said.
The Cold Spring Fire Chief Jim Maile was first to arrive on the scene and had firefighters set off a fire alarm to help clear the building as soon as people were becoming sick, reported the St. Cloud Times.
Rescuers set up a “hot zone? for everyone who was injured, then began triage. All uninjured students were sent to elementary schools, Stearns County Chief Deputy Bruce Bechtold said.
By 2:22 p.m. St. Cloud’s hazardous materials team had arrived. Parents begain arriving by 2:30 p.m. to pick up their students, and most students were gone by 3 p.m.
No chlorine was being detected in the school building as of 4 p.m.
The hospital is advising anyone who was exposed during the incident and wants to be evaluated to contact their doctor or go to the emergency room.
The chlorine gas leak is the second this year, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency spokesman Walker Smith said. The MPCA typically sees between six to eight chlorine gas spills year, although not all are pool related.
Stearns County inspects public pools, including the Rocori High School pool, each year, said Don Adams, director of Stearns County Environmental Services. Between 20-25 pools are inspected each year for pH and chlorine levels.

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March 25, 2008

Protesters File Suit Over Route of Their March on the RNC

An anti-war group says it will file a federal complaint requiring St. Paul to grant them a permit to march at the Republican National Convention on Sept. 1, according to a news release Sunday, said the Pioneer Press.
The group filed suit in the U.S. District Court on Monday asking that a route be designated for their demonstration, which will be held the first day of the convention, said the Star Tribune.
The Coalition to March on the RNC and Stop the War are planning to protest the war at the RNC, however, their attempts to get their permit with a specific route has been more than challenging.
"It is our hope that legal action will help us win the permit we need — one that takes a massive, anti-war march to the doors of the Republican Convention at the Xcel Center," Marie Braun, of the coalition, said in the release, reported the Pioneer Press.
The suit accuses city officials of violating protester's free speech, naming specifically; Mayor Chris Coleman, St. Paul Police Chief John Harrington and his assistant chief, Matt Bostrom, who is in charge of security for the convention, said the Star Tribune. The suit also says that those officials frustrated their efforts to get a march route from the State Capitol to Xcel Energy Center and back to the Capitol.
"City officials are not keeping their promises or upholding city ordinances, and that is what brings us here today," said Jess Sundin, a spokeswoman for the Coalition to March on the RNC. "The only thing standing between the Republicans and a massive antiwar protest on September 1 is the ill will of the city of St. Paul, namely Mayor Chris Coleman and Assistant Police Chief Matt Bostrom," she said.
St. Paul police spokesman Tom Walsh disagreed. "We've worked hard to make sure all viewpoints have been heard through the planning process, including the Coalition to March on the RNC," he said. "We've done more to protect free speech than any other convention city before us. We're proud of that and we're going to continue to move forward in good faith in planning a safe convention for the thousands of visitors here in September."
On March 1, police granted protesters a "conditional alternative permit," but it provided no definitive march route. A motion for a preliminary injunction to force the city to set a route was also filed by the protest group.
The protesters are aiming for a route that runs close to the Xcel Center where U.S. Sen. John McCain is expected to be named the Republican presidential nominee. The march will oppose U.S. involvement in the Iraq war, and is expected to draw thousands.
In a set of guidelines issued Feb. 29, police offered some possible partial march routes and cited major traffic and safety concerns that still must be addressed for a convention that has been designated a "National Special Security Event." The police said they'll set a route no later than May 31, although they reserve the right to revise the guidelines and permits if necessary.
The ACLU says that if protesters can get a judge to order police to select a route, and if protesters feel it is too far from the Xcel, the suit gives them time to challenge it in court.
The suit says the guidelines allow police "unbridled discretion." It was filed on behalf of protesters by attorneys David Potter for the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota and Bruce Nestor of the National Lawyers Guild.

March 10, 2008

Two Die in Wrong-way Crash on I-494

Two Minnesota girls died in a head-on crash Saturday that police investigators are still asking, why, reported the Star Tribune.
Brittany Stowman, 20, of Oakdale, and Chartie Foss, 20, of Woodbury died when their car heading the wrong way on Interstate 494 hit a van and a semitrailer.
At around 1:45 a.m. Saturday, the car Stowman was driving was headed east in the westbound lanes when it collided with an oncoming van and then a semi truck. David Berens, 19, who was driving the truck that stuck Stowman's car head-on suffered minor injuries, reported the Pioneer Press.
James Manny, 37, was driving the Roundy's semi that smashed into the car from the right lane. Manny was not injured.
Stowman was taken to Regina Medical Center in Hastings, and Foss was taken to Regions Hospital in St. Paul. Authorities did not detect alcohol in Stowman or any of the other drivers, according to a report from the State Patrol.
Stowman's grandfather, Richard Stowman, thought the two women might have been visiting friends across town, reported the Star Tribune.
Stowman was working as a medical assistant for a dermatologist and wanted to do "a million things," her grandfather said. She had a 2-year-old son, Tony.
Foss was a student at Century College. According to her MySpace page, she hoped to transfer soon to an out-of-state college to study psychology.

March 9, 2008

Minneapolis Man Arrested During Airport Sex Sting is Now Aquitted

A Minneapolis man was aquitted Friday after being arrested in the same airport bathroom sex-sting operation that U.S. Sen. Larry Craig was arrested, reported the Pioneer Press.
Vince Tuzo, 39, claimed he wasn't guilty because the officer had intiated the foot-tapping. This was the same argument Craig used in trying to withdraw his guilty plea. In Tuzon's case, the Hennipen County jury agreed Tuzon wasn't guilty.
"My client really feels that he was set up," defense lawyer Jeffrey Dean said after the verdict. "He stopped in to use the restroom. He was using the toilet when he was essentially bombarded with overtures."
The sting operation consisted of officers posing as gay men solicting sex in a bathroom in the Northstar Crossing, a food court in the Lindbergh Terminal at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.
"My client feels that the police conduct was very abusive, and he was entrapped and set up," defense lawyer Jeffrey Dean said.
Tuzon went into the restroom on July 5 to use the bathroom and was in a stall with undercover police on both sides, reported the Star Tribune.
The lawyer said one officer and Tuzon began tapping feet, "which led to my client finally doing what the officer communicated my client to do, which was look into his stall, at which point they arrested him. ... We feel that that is misconduct and abusive and this would've never happened had the police never started all of this."
The sting went on in relative obscurity until news broke in August that one of the men cited was Craig, a staunch "family values" conservative Republican from Idaho, reported the Pioneer Press. Craig was arrested June 11 after he entered a bathroom stall next to one occupied by airport police Sgt. Dave Karsnia, who was working undercover.
Karsnia said the senator looked into Karsnia's stall, then, once in his own stall, tapped his foot and slid his hand under the stall divider. Those gestures in a men's room are regarded as signals soliciting sex, police said.
The senator was charged with disorderly conduct and interference with privacy.
Craig initially pleaded guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct and paid $575 in fines. But he said that he pleaded guilty to try and keep the incident out of the media and has since asked the state Appeals Court to let him withdraw the plea.
Hogan, the airport spokesman, said Tuzon was one of only two cases from the sting operation to go to trial.
"Nearly all of them have already been settled," he said.

March 3, 2008

Minnesota Vikings Gain in Free Agents

The Vikings signed two free agents this weekend adding a safety and wide receiver to their line up, reported the Star Tribune. Bernard Berrian and Madieu Williams added purple and gold to their wardrobe as the became members of the Minnesota Vikings.
Berrian spent his first four seasons in the NFL with the Chicago Bears, but on Saturday that changed when he signed a six-year, $42 million contract that includes $16 million in guarantees, according to the NFL Network, reported the Pioneer Press.
The Vikings have been one of the more active teams since free agency started Thursday night by also signing safety Madieu Williams to a six-year, $33 million contract that includes nearly $13 million.
The Vikings pursued receiver Berrian aggressively mentioning his ability to work the short and intermediate zones, while still stretching the field and making plays up the field.
Berrian never has topped 1,000 yards receiving in a season, but his yardage has increased each season in the NFL, from 225 yards in 2004 to 951 last season with the Bears.
As the details of his contract were being worked out, Berrian said he grew frustrated at his agent. When asked if he ever got close to leaving the Twin Cities to meet with the Raiders, Berrian said, "We weren't really going to go unless it was really, really something substantial to really get us to go there."
Berrian talked about the Vikings' 2008 postseason possibilities, as well as the strength of the team's defense, offensive and defensive lines and the "great running back."
Given the investment in him, Berrian will be viewed as the No. 1 receiver, Vikings receiver Bobby Wade said, who played two seasons in Chicago with Berrian. But he won't let that go to his head.

Minnesota Teen Collapses From Heart Attack

A Monticello teen was hospitalized with a heart attack at his basketball game Friday night, reported the Star Tribune. Starting center, Adam Thielen, collapsed on the bench after playing five minutes in the game.
A defibrillator was used twice to restart his heart, and then he was airlifted to North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale, reported the Pioneer Press.
Doctors put Thielen in an indused coma, where doctors cooled his body to minimize damage, Thielen's parents said in a posting on the Caring Bridge site, reported the Star Tribune.
On Sunday, doctors warmed Thielen's body back to normal temperature and began to remove him from his medically induced coma, saidthe Caring Bridge website, reported the Pioneer Press. He later woke up and began talking to family members, asking them, "Did we win?" according the Web site.
Thielen played the first five minutes of the game with Rogers on Friday and came off the floor as part of the normal player rotation, said coach Bruce Balder-Lanoue, reported the Star Tribune.
"Everything seemed normal," coach Balder-Lanoue said. "He didn't ask to be taken out. He was sitting on the bench and then he just collapsed" forward onto the basketball court. The game was stopped when Thielen collapsed and play did not resume.
Under Minnesota State High School League rules, a student athlete must have a physical exam every three years and complete an annual health questionnaire. Balder-Lanoue said he believes Thielen had a physical as a sophomore.
Heart attacks are rare among student athletes, but they happen every year, usually caused by a heart defect that has gone unnoticed. Many schools have portable defibrillators in case of such emergencies.
"This is the second time we've used the defibrillator," Balder-Lanoue said. "The first time we weren't so lucky."
Before the 7:30 p.m. game Friday, Thielen was honored at the annual "senior night" ceremony.

February 25, 2008

Lake Elmo Woman Awakes from Coma

A 65-year-old Lake Elmo woman woke from a coma doctors said she would never wake up from, reported the Star Tribune.
Raleane (Rae) Kupferschmidt was taken to the hospital Jan. 16 with a massive bleeding in her head. She was then raced to United Hospital in St. Paul to receive surgery only to come out with a brain hemorrhage, reported the Pioneer Press.
She fell into a coma, and doctors said she was not going to survive. Her family brought her home to die and began the task of planning the funeral.
As family and friends said goodbye to her as she lay in a coma, Kupferschmidt unexpectedly began to wake up, reported the Star Tribune. The surgery removed the blood clot and she began to improve.
She progressed steadily until Jan. 22. when her husband, Alan, became alarmed as she slipped in and out of consciousness, reported the Pioneer Press. He called 911.
At the hospital, doctors drilled two holes in her head to relieve the pressure from the blood. She was sent home Jan. 31, not to diethis time, but to heal.
Kupferschmidt is now making national news with her story, reported the Star Tribune. After numerous interviews and an appearance on the "Good Morning America" Tv show, Kupferschmidt is needing to recover. Her husband, Alan, said, " "We're just so glad that she's back."

St. Paul Landlord Sued City for Discriminatory Code Enforcement

An Eagan man and his property comapny filed a lawsuit Friday alleging that St. Paul city officials have violated fair housing laws by subjecting his buildings to illegal and discriminatory code enforcement action aimed at reducing the number of low-income rental units, reported the Star Tribune.
Robert McCampbell, 52, and his company, Raven Property Management, accused certain city officials of having a political agenda to reduce the number of poor tenants in the city, most of whom are black minorities. McCampbell charged in his 26-page lawsuit that city officials have used the building code enforcement system to illegally shut down apartments with minority tenants or to force the tenants to move out.
The city's actions drove McCampbell to lose money and tenants and eventually forced him into foreclosure, he claimed, reported th Pioneer Press.
According to McCampbell, the city had a cozy relationship with the St. Paul Housing Agency who were subjected to a lower standard of code enforcement.
By contrast, the suit says, the Public Housing Agency (PHA) residences are "exempt from interior inspections" and are subject to minimal code enforcement, reported the Star Tribune. The suit alleges that the city's license and inspection office has consistently failed to conduct permit inspections on PHA homes. Yet it alleges that the city targets private landlords who rent to similar tenants, "jeopardizing their rental businesses and disrupting the lives of their tenants."
Between 2001 and 2006, McCampbell owned apartment buildings at 780 Jackson St. in the Frogtown area and 615/617 Case Ave. and 1015 York Ave., both in the Payne/Phalen neighborhood, according to the suit. Almost all of his tenants are low-income minorities, often coming form other cities such as detroit and Chicago, reported the Pioneer Press.
From 2002 through 2006, McCampbell alleged that city officials and employees made racist comments to minorities and to property owners renting to them, " to the effect that those minorities were not welcomed in St. Paul and should not be given housing."
The suit alleged that Andy Dawkins, head of the city's Neighborhood Housing and Property Improvement Department from 2002 through 2005, made remarks that the "bottom tier of tenants should be eliminated from St. Paul," quoted the Star Tribune.
Dawkins later responded to a reporter, "One of the things we tried to do was to hold landlords responsible for keeping properties up to code." He said, "I'm very confident that the city of St. Paul could only have liability if they treated tenants different because of their race, and that just didn't happen."
Also McCampbell said, senior Fire Inspector Pat Fish, who headed the city's Problem Property Task Force, told him on at least two occasions in 2004 and 2005, "I don't know why you rent to these people." McCampbell said it was clear to him that Fish did not want him renting to low-income minority tenants.
The suit seeks compensatory damages, attorneys' fees and injunctive relief to keep the city from "continuing its wrongful conduct," reported the Pioneer Press.

February 18, 2008

Woman Pleads Guilty for Role in Death of Howard Porter

Tonya E. Johnson admitted Thursday to aiding in the death of Ramsey Country probation officer Howard Porter, reported the Star Tribune. Johnson, 33, claimed she lured Porter to a St. Paul address where a planned robbery and beating were to happen to Porter.
Johnson is charged with second-degree murder for aiding and abetting an aggravted robbery, reported the Pioneer Press. In return for her guilty plea, prosecutors will recommend a 10-year prison term, according to Jane Imholte, one of the assistant Hennepin County public defenders representing Washington.
Her sentencing is scheduled for June 2 before District Judge Margaret Daly.
Johnson is one of three suspects in this case. Police arrested Rashad Arthur Raleigh, 30, and Fredquinzo Ronte King, 29, in Porter's death. Both men are charged with first-degree murder.
Porter's disappearance in May shocked the community and police, reported the Star Tribune. Porter was a basketball star who played with the Villanovas. His college career ended due to injuries and cocaine, and he soon became addicted to cocaine, reported the Pioneer Press. After he overcame his drug use, he got a job in 1994 as a probation officer in Ramsey County.
At 5:30 a.m. May 19, Minneapolis police and firefighters found an unconscious and unidentified man in an alley in the city's Folwell neighborhood in North Minneapolis. Dressed only in blue shorts, he had been severely beaten.
The comatose man was admitted to the hospital as John Doe. Porter's fiancee in St. Paul, meanwhile, had reported him missing, and when police compared descriptions, they realized Porter was the man in the hospital. He died May 26.
Police said Johnson first claimed she had been soliciting sex on Sherburne Avenue in St. Paul when a car pulled up and she told the driver (Porter) they could go to her house to have sex. There Porter was robbed and beaten.
But her story later changed when she said she called Porter to come to the St. Paul address and knew Raleigh and King were waiting for him there, reported the Star Tribune.
According to a police affidavit, Johnson told officers that when she and Porter went inside her home, "four masked black men" rushed into the house, threw her to the floor and demanded money and drugs from Porter, who was 6 feet 9 inches tall and weighed about 270 pounds, reported the Pioneer Press. She said that the men began beating Porter with their fists and feet and that "there was blood everywhere."
Johnson, also known as Tonya E. Jones and Tonya Y. Washington, had previous arrests for drug possession, disorderly and lewd conduct and driving offenses.
She is being held in the Hennepin County Adult Detention Center.

Claremont Man Dead after Fatal Stabbing

Claremont man died on Saturday after being stabbed by two men, reported the Star Tribune. The victim Troy R. Ulrich, 42, was found in the hallway of his apartment complex at 8:30 a.m. Saturday by residents, said Dodge County Sheriff Gary Thompson, reported the Pioneer Press.
His body suffered six stab wounds to the chest, said Thompson, quoted the Star Tribune. His body was about 150 feet from his apartment unit.
The two men suspected of stabbing Ulrich are father and son. One of the suspects, the 42-year-old father, was arrested in the apartment unit directly across from where Ulrich lived, Thompson said. His 20-year-old son was arrested in Austin, Minn., a day later.
It's unclear why Ulrich was killed and what role the father and son played in his death, Thompson said.
"I don't know a whole lot about what transpired," he said. "I know that they were out and there was some disagreement earlier in the night Friday."
The suspects are longtime Dodge County residents. They have family in Ulrich's apartment complex and visited often, Thompson said. The men were known to socialize with Ulrich, but the extent of their friendship is uncertain, the sheriff said.
Ulrich lived with his girlfriend, who told authorities that he was in and out of his apartment late Friday. Authorities believe he was killed sometime after 1 a.m. Saturday.
Claremont is a town of 620 people about 80 miles southeast of the Twin Cities.


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February 13, 2008

Child Beaten to Death for Soiling Pants

A 4-year-old boy died after he was beaten by his relative for soiling his pants, reported the Pioneer Press. Carla Poole, 37, is charged with second-degree murder for the death of Desmond Reed.
Poole, who is a cousin of Reed's father, was caring for Reed at the time while his father was serving a 30-day sentence in the Hennepin County workhouse. A police investigator's affidavit states that some of Poole's children witnessed and even aided in Reed's death.
After the beating, Reed had a seizure and began to vomit, but Poole refused to call for help because she was afraid, one child told police.
Reed stopped breathing and Poole tried to give him cardio-pulmonary resuscitation, yet her attempts failed. The next morning, one of her children stated Reed was frozen and not breathing.
Poole left his cold body on a bed for two days before placing it into a black plastic garbage bag and hiding it in a closet in her north Minneapolis duplex, reported the Star Tribune.
Poole told police on Wednesday, that a family acquaintance named Shawna took the boy. She then told her 11-year-old daughter to call relatives and report that Reed was missing.
After many inconsistencies in Poole's story, police searched the apartment and found Reed's body Sunday.
Dr. Jon Thompson of the Hennepin County Medical Examiner's office, reported that Reed suffered a horrible beating and numerous other injuries, the affidavit said.
"Dr. Thompson documented multiple bruises to his head and his body including bruises to the right and left forehead and on the back portion of his head; he had upper and lower frenulum tears, an injury associated with a blunt object forcibly entering the mouth; he had rib fractures of an indeterminate age; he had puncture wounds on his stomach, back and buttocks; he had a large hematoma on his left eye; and he had bruises on his extremities," the affidavit said.
Poole is being held in the Hennepin County Adult Detention Center on $1 million bail, and she is to make her first appearance before a judge at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Poole's four children, ages 4 to 11, are in protective custody. Hennepin County attorney Michael Freeman said the county will take action to have her parental rights removed permanently and plans to take the case to a grand jury on first-degree murder charges.
The year's first homicide in Minneapolis "couldn't be any tougher," Police Chief Tim Dolan said.


February 11, 2008

Pilot Dead in a Plane Crash in Southern Minnesota

A pilot was found dead on Saturday after his plane crashed in a field near Grand Meadow, reported MyFox Twin Cities. The pilot was later identified as Phillip Ray Edgington, 54, of Sanger, Texas.
Edgington purchased the aircraft on Friday, said the Mower County Sheriff's Office. FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory said the pilot was the only person on the Cessna 140.
The plane was flying from New Richmond, Wisc., to Fulton, Mo., with a stopover planned in Oskaloosa, Iowa. It went missing shortly after making contact with the FAA's Minneapolis center at about 12:50 a.m., when it was flying over the Rochester area, reported the Star Tribune.
About 50 members of the Minnesota Wing Civil Air Patrol started a ground search at about 2 a.m., focused on areas south of Rochester. The plane was found just outside Grand Meadow, which is about 25 miles southwest of Rochester.
The plane's wreckage was first spotted at about 9 a.m. by Larry Churchill and his son, Brian, who live nearby. They saw an object in the field which they had difficulty identifying because of foggy conditions.
"Then we saw a wing," Brian Churchill told the newspaper. "My dad went out there and saw a body."
The Churchills called 911, and the Mower County Sheriff's Department was first to respond to the scene,.
An online file of the plane's tail number indicated that it was owned by a Stillwater, Minnesota man. However, Edgington had purchased the aircraft on Friday in New Richmond, Wisconsin, reported MyFox News.
The cause of the crash remains under investigation.

February 3, 2008

Garrison Keillor Endorses Obama

Garrison Keillor, host of public radio's "A Prairie Home Companion" announced his support of Sen. Barack Obama for president, Sunday, reports the Pioneer Press. Keillor wrote a letter to Obama stating his support just two days before the Democratic caucus is to be held in Minnesota, on Super Tuesday.
Keillor said of his endorsement of Obama, "I'm happy to support your candidacy, which is so full of promise for our country," reports USA Today. He also states, "Seven years of a failed presidency is a depressing thing, and the country is pressing for a change and looking for someone with clear vision who is determined to break through the rhetorical logjam and find sensible ways to move our country forward. That's you, friend."
Obama spoke to a crowd of nearly 20,000 at the Target Center in downtown Minneapolis on Saturday. A poll by Minnesota Public Radio and the Humphrey Institute released Thursday showed Obama behind rival Hillary Clinton, 40% to 33%.
Keillor said on his endorsement podcast, "I'm a democrat who feels as many of you do that this is the year for our party to come back and try to repair some of the damage that has been done over the past seven years." Keillor also said, "I think it would be amazing just to have a president who can speak the english language. Barack Obama is one who can speak with grace and power."

January 31, 2008

Shark Attack at MOA

Last Friday, the Mall of America experienced a shark attack in their underwater aquarium, reported the Pioneer Press. The victim was another shark, Little Shark 54, who weighs 50 pounds, compared to its attacker of 300 pounds.
The 300-pound shark, named Jesse, had the female Shark 54 in its mouth for nearly 30 minutes. Kare 11 News reports that Shark 54 will survive, although she has many bite marks along her back.
Presently Shark 54 is receiving antibiotics for her injuries. Director of husbandry and life support, Reid Withrow said, "She's eating and seems to be doing well. She's not out of the woods yet," quotes Pioneer Press.
The attack seemed to be unprovoked, seeing as how Jesse had not missed any meals recently. The workers had to use large feeding tongs to remove Shark 54 from the mouth of Jesse. They were able to pull her out by her tail and have her swim to the opposite side of the aquarium where she was immediately removed, reports Kare 11 News.
None of the staff are able to determine the cause of the attack, states the Pioneer Press. "Maybe [Shark 54] brushed against her and triggered the bite reflex," Withrow said.
Shark 54 has been kept in isolation while she is recovering, along with other white tip reef sharks. The staff is currently looking for any visitors who had seen the attack and could help determine the cause.