April 17, 2007

Coverage of the Virginia Tech Massacre

The Pioneer Press and Star Tribune featured the exact same story from AP writer Matt Apuzzo. The Pioneer Press posted it online at 1:40 am, and the Star Tribune posted it most recently at 4:43 this afternoon.

The story is appropriately long, having been written well after the attacks, it is filled with not only a description of the events that unfolded the day of the shooting, but also background on the shooter, Cho Seung-Hui, a 23-year-old English senior. The story also provided quotes with reactions from students, instructers, the University president, and police officers.

The coverage of this story is mostly predictable because it is a predictable scenario: Of course the gunman was distrubed. Of course there were signs and missed opportunities for intervention.

It is interesting to compare national coverage to the local media at the university. The Collegiate Times is the Virginia Tech student newspaper. In an article posted yesterday afternoon on the paper's Web site, written by Saira Haider and Kevin Anderson, details such as the place where news conferences were held, the floor of the dorm that the shootings occured on, and a more detailed account of the attack from a student witness.

One feature of the school paper's article I thought was helpful in understanding this story was a timeline of events, including the two-hour gap between the first shooting and notification to the campus community.

I don't know exactly how the logistics works for newspapers using AP stories, but I think a good idea would be to consult more local sources for information when national news occurs. The AP reporter might not be from the area the event(s) occured in, so a credible source that is closer to the community may be very helpful in understanding the story and humanizing it.

March 26, 2007

Stabbing in Popular Nightclub

A 20-year-old woman was stabbed at 1:15 this morning at a club in dowtown Minneapolis, reports Tim Halow of the Star Tribune.

Police say the unnamed victim had an argument with another woman earlier at the club Gay 90s. The woman later walked up the the victim while she was dancing with friends, then assaulted and stabbed her in the chest.

Hundreds of people were inside the club at the time, but police evacuated them so medical personnel could attend to the victim, who was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center.

Police arrested the suspect, a 21-year-old woman from Brooklyn Center. She has not been charged.

Police are also looking for a second suspect.

The Pioneer Press also covered this story. Nancy Yang wrote a very brief blurb (four sentences) about the stabbing and posted it on their Web site today at 7:13 AM. The Star Tribune's article was last updated at 11:04 AM today; the four hour difference is probably why there is such a notable discrepency between the two article's lengths.

It is also possible that the Pioneer Press may not have considered this story particularly newsworthy enough to garner more coverage.

February 19, 2007

Two Men Shot Near Funeral Home

Two men were shot near a hmong funeral home in Maplewood last Saturday.

An unnamed gunman opened fire at about 10:40 p.m. in the parking lot outside Metro Funeral Home while the building was full of mourners, Maplewood police said Sunday.

The first victim, a 20-year-old man from Brooklyn Park, was shot in the abdomen while standing outside the building. He was taken to Regions Hospital and as of Sunday remained in intensive care, police said.

The second victim, a 40-year-old man driving by the scene, was shot in the left arm by a stray bullet. He was treated at Regions Hospital and was released Sunday.

Police Lt. David Kvam said the first victim appeared to be the intended target. No arrest has been made, but a suspect has been identified.

February 11, 2007

Teen charged with rape, "person of interest" in two other cases

A seventeen-year-old male has been charged with raping one women and is being investigated in connection with two other rapes in Minneapolis.

According to the charges filed Wednesday, Lorenzo London followed a 35-year-old woman off a bus Jan. 31, then pulled out a gun and demanded money and told her to remove her clothes. The woman refused, so London punched her, raped her, and beat her with the gun.

London was charged with first-degree rape, aggravated robbery and kidnapping. Hennepin County has filed a motion to have him tried as an adult.

St. Paul police are also investigating London in connection with the rapes of a 57-year-old woman and 13-year-old girl last month along Payne Avenue. St. Paul police have made a link between London and the location of the rapes, Sgt. Paul Schnell said.

Although DNA tests have determined that the attacks were committed by two different men, police consider London a "person of interest" because he has ties to St. Paul and to the violence used in the attacks. The results of the tests won't be known until at least next week, said Sgt. Paul Schnell.

February 5, 2007

Minn Soldier Guilty of Desertion

A Minnesota soldier was sentenced to three months in military prison Monday for deserting her unit the day before being deployed to Kuwait.

Spc. Melanie McPherson, 28, an Army reservist from Tofte, Minn., originally pleaded guilty to going absent without leave, or AWOL, which is a lesser charge. But the new ruling finding McPherson guilty of desertion supercedes the first.

McPherson hitchhiked back to Minnesota from Fort Bliss in July.

Other than the prison sentence, McPherson was reduced in rank to private and will receive a bad-conduct discharge.

McPherson was trained as a military photojournalist, but said that she was afraid to be deployed and then be assigned a more dangerous job, like truck driving, that she had not been trained for.

January 31, 2007

Unborn Child Dead After Father Beats Mother

Without any apparent motive, a 20-year-old man attacked his pregnant girlfriend Sunday morning, beating her so badly she miscarried the 12-week-old fetus she was carrying.

Ramsey County prosecutors Tuesday charged Scott with third-degree assault of Namrata Ceisel, 18, and with second-degree murder of an unborn child.

What makes this story even more strange is that the man, Dino Michael Scott, commited the act in an elevator in plain view of a security camera.

According to the criminal complaint, at about 7 a.m. Sunday, the couple entered an elevator at an apartment complex in Maplewood where Scott's father lives. Then Scott smirks at and points to the camera. "He then begins to violently assault Ms. Ceisel...For 20 seconds, he continually punches and kicks Ms. Ceisel until she appears to be knocked unconscious. Mr. Scott can be seen dragging Ms. Ceisel's limp body off of the elevator by one arm." Moments later, Scott reappears and wipes the blood from the walls.

The criminal complaint filed says nothing about a motive for the beating.

January 29, 2007

Girl Dragged by Van in Hit-and-Run

An 11-year-old girl was dragged "300 to 500 yards" after being hit by a van Sunday evening, according to the Pioneer Press.

The girl was legally crossing Robert street in West Saint Paul when a van hit her while making a left turn. An alert driver who saw the accident forced the van to stop, then called police.

The van's driver was Mauricio Sanchez, 33, of St. Paul. Police arrested Sanchez after chasing him for several blocks.

Police Chief Manila "Bud" Shaver said he did not know if Sanchez knew he had hit the girl or not.

January 24, 2007

Suspected Serial Armed Robber Not Yet Caught

The Starbucks on highway 13 in Savage was robbed on January 15. Savage now joins the list of cities one single suspected perpetrator has robbed, police say, along with Farmington, Eagan, Burnsville.

According to the Shakopee Valley News, a black man entered the store about 10:45 p.m., brandished a gun and demanded cash. There were two employees in the store. The man then fled the store on foot with an undisclosed amount of money. No customers were in the shop and no one was injured.

The Savage Police are asking anyone with information to call 952-882-2600.

January 23, 2007

Crime is Thicker than Blood

Oak Park Heights prosecutors are charging a 29-year-old Lake Elmo man with first-degree aggravated robbery for stealing $3,700 from a VFW three days before Halloween last year.

He might have gotten away with it, but among other evidence, Jeremy John Janshen sped away from the VFW without his partner and uncle, 41-year-old Bradley Karl Janshen, who was apprehended by a citizen while running out the door.

Ross Larson, a 43-year-old, 6 feet 225 pound Stillwater man and corrections officer tackled the uncle just outside the VFW when he heard the pull-tab station had been robbed.

Bradley Janshen is free on $25,000 bail and is to appear in court today on a first-degree aggravated robbery charge.

His nephew is free on $50,000 bail and is to appear in court Feb. 27.

Read more at the Pioneer Press's Website:

January 22, 2007

Two Suspects Still At Large in Double Homicide

Two of three suspects are still at large in the case of a double homicide in Brooklyn Park, according to a report in today's Star Tribune. One suspect was arrested at 2:30 this morning.

Ja'Naurri Allen, 18, and Mosetta Peters, 21, were shot and killed in their car on the 8100 block of Zane Avenue N. last week.

Brooklyn Park police chief Wade Setter declined to give much information about the suspects, but police are describing the motive for the murders as a domestic disturbance.

Anyone with information regarding this case is being asked to call the police tips line at 763-493-8355.

Read the full story at