April 21, 2009

Man pretending to fall of bridge, falls

The Star Tribune reported that a 23-year-old man, who pretended to fall off a bridge over the Minnesota River, actually fell. He is in stable condition.

Bloomington police received a call from a 21-year-old man just before 5 a.m. on Sunday saying his friend had fallen off the Highway 77 bridge into the river below. The man who made the call told police he had been driving north when his friend, who had been drinking, told him to pull over into the emergency lane so he could urinate, the Star Tribune said.

The 23-year-old climbed to the edge of the bridge and pretended he was going to fall. He then fell.

Bloomington and Eagan police responded to the incident. The Eagan Fire Department used a chair lift to retrieve the man from the river. The man is being treated for serious injuries at the Hennepin County Medical Center, the Star Tribune said.

April 20, 2009

Minneapolis man shoots girlfriend then shots self

The Star Tribune reported a Minneapolis man shot and killed his girlfriend of a year outside a Maple Groove McDonald’s on Sunday, then committed suicide on a nearby freeway only minutes after.

Dozens of customers, including children, were inside the McDonald’s restaurant when the woman approached and was shot twice by a shotgun, the Start Tribune said.

Maple Groove police received several 911 calls just before 2 p.m. from customers who were at the McDonald’s located on Sycamore Lane N. when the shooting took place. After first shot was fired, witnesses saw the woman fall towards the curb, Maple Grove police Capt. Tracy Stille said. The man then approached the woman and shot her again at a very close range.

The man then fled to a white vehicle. Many witnesses scrambled to get the license plate number.

Stille told the Star Tribune that the man and woman arrived separately to end a year long on-again, off-again relationship. Their names have not been released, but police described them as metro-area residents in their 20s.

The Star Tribune reported that a Brooklyn Park police officer was waiting for the suspect driving the described vehicle speeding along Interstate 694.

Stille told the Star Tribune that about six minutes after the initial 911 calls, the officer pulled the suspect over on 694 at the border of Brooklyn Park and Brooklyn Center. The officer approached the car and found the suspect dead, with a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The officer did not see or hear the shooting, but a rifle was found inside the car.

While authorities searched the scene of the McDonald’s parking lot for any further damages to the surrounding cars, the woman’s body lay covered for several hours. It’s unclear how many shots were fired, the Star Tribune said.

The woman’s 9-month-old daughter and several grieving family members arrived at the scene shortly after the shooting and were interviewed by police. Friends and family members declined to comment, the Star Tribune said.

April 18, 2009

Maple Groove man charged with beating kitten

The Star Tribune reported that a Maple Groove man was charged after beating his girlfriend’s cat, which had to be euthanized, and the disappearance of three other cats she owned.

Ryan J. Wolcott, 24, was charged in Dakota County District Court with the abandonment or an animal, which is a misdemeanor, and with mistreatment of an animal, a felony. According to court documents, Wolcott admitted to squeezing and hitting his girlfriend’s female cat against the bathtub in November. His girlfriend found the cat unresponsive, the Star Tribune said.

The Star Tribune reported that Wolcott’s girlfriend brought the cat, Mayzie, to a veterinary clinic in Eagan. She told clinic officials that she thought her boyfriend might be responsible. After the cat was placed on respiratory, it was euthanized. An autopsy showed that Mayzie suffered from multiple head injuries and deep abdominal bruising.

The veterinarian shared these results with the Eagan animal control officer in early December, and an investigation began, the Star Tribune said.

The women, whose name was not disclosed, told police her boyfriend had been living with her since early 2008. Three cats had disappeared since Wolcott moved in with her, the Star Tribune said.

Wolcott’s girlfriend told police that Wolcott sprayed his fingers with pepper spray and dabbed the kitten’s eyes. Wolcott told police he gave the kitten away. He also told police he left the other two cats in an Egan field.

April 14, 2009

Northfield man sentenced 8 years in torturing disabled man

KSPT TV reported one of five people accused of luring a disabled Lakeville man and beating him plead guilty Tuesday for the brutal October attacks.

John Maxwell Maniglia, 20, of Northfield, pled guilty to third-degree assault, kidnapping, and theft Tuesday morning in Dakota County District in connection to a series of violent crimes against Justin Hamilton, 24, of Lakeville the Star Tribune said.

Maniglia and four other others were charged in connection with beating and torturing Hamilton on two separate occasions of Oct. 10 and 11 of last year. Hamilton, who was born with fetal alcohol syndrome, was lured by Maniglia, Natasha Dahn, Jonathon Diepold, John Ketterling and Glen Ries to a rural area in Waterford Township and tortured him for hours, police said.

The beatings were initiated after Dahn, 16, told Maniglia that Hamilton assaulted her. Dahn plead guilty last November to four felonies and received juvenile detention, the Star Tribune said.

The Star Tribune reported Diepold, 21, of Northfield, faces 10 felony counts, including kidnapping, assault and robbery. Ries, 33, also of Northfield, faces five counts on similar charges and has been fired from working with disabled adults in Northfield. Ketterling, 21, of Prior Lake, is charged with false imprisonment, theft and third-degree assault.

Judge Timothy Wermerger told KSPT Maniglia will serve eight years in prison, which is double the usual punishment based on unusual cruelty.

Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom said Maniglia’s sentenced was doubled because Hamilton is still suffering emotional distress from the torture. He has since recovered from the physical injuries including deep cuts, bruises, cuts, burns and two broken ribs.

Officials told KSPT Maniglia is a member of the Minnesota National Guard. His full sentencing is scheduled for June 15, KSPT said.

April 8, 2009

3 Big Lake Township residents injured in gas explosion

The Star Tribune reported that three people were injured Wednesday when a home exploded and caught fire in Big Lake Township.

Laddy Cusick, 79, and his wife, Ramona, 79, were moving into their new home from Arizona to be closer to their family. The Sherburne County Sheriff reported the couple smelt gas at the home while visiting on Monday. A repairman visited several times and said nothing was wrong, according to the Star Tribune.

As the couple continued to move in on Wednesday with the help of another couple, Chester and Marianne Richardson, they could smell gas again. After opening the garage door to air out the smell, they continued to move into the new home.

Shortly after, the explosion occurred when the two women were inside and the men were outside, the Star Tribune said.

Laddy Cusick ran in and got one woman out. Then he returned into the burning home to get the other woman.

“He probably saved both of their lives,” Barry Anderson, Ramona Cusick's son, said from his home in the Seattle area.

The Star Tribune reported the couples were airlifted to different hospitals.

Marianne Richardson was reported in serious condition at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis. Laddy and Ramona Cusick were taken to Regions Hospital in St. Paul. Ramona was reported in serious condition, while Laddy was reported in stable condition.

Officials are investigating the explosion and fire, the Star Tribune said.

April 6, 2009

Search continues for missing St. Thomas student

St. Paul police are still in search of a University of St. Thomas freshman who disappeared Sunday morning, the Star Tribune said.

Daniel Zamlen, of Eveleth, Minn., who turns 19 on Wednesday, was reported missing by friends on Sunday after leaving a party around 2:30 a.m. He had been drinking, although he should not have because he has Type I diabetes, said friends and family members.

The Star Tribune reported that Zamlen left the party after getting into an argument, which his friends declined to discuss, saying it was not an extraordinary disagreement.

After leaving the party without telling his friends, Zamlen spoke over cell phone to Anna Chappuis and Sarah Nelson, both students at St. Thomas. He told his friends he was walking on St. Clair Avenue toward Mississippi River Boulevard S, St. Paul police spokesman Pete Panos said.

Chappuis pleaded with Zamlen. Asking, "Where are you going? Let's just go back to my house,” she said.

As Chappuis drove toward the Mississippi River, she asked Zamlen to look for her headlights. "The last thing I heard was, 'Oh, my gosh, Anna, where are you? Help!'" Chappuis said.

The last several words seemed as if Zamlen was moving away from the phone, Chappuis said. Family and friends called his cell phone and it rang through for several hours. Later, their calls went straight to his voice mail, indicating the battery went dead, the Star Tribune said.

Zamlen may have been walking to see friends at the University of Minnesota. However, it is unclear of where he was going, Britta Bloomquist, a friend from Virginia, Minn., told the Star Tribune.

The news had spread around the St. Thomas campus by noon on Sunday through text-messages and e-mails.

The Star Tribune reported that police did not send anyone into the area until 4:30 p.m. on Sunday. Foot searches, aerial sweeps with a helicopter and a search by the St. Paul Fire Department came up empty-handed.

Zamlen’s family is worried that he may run low of insulin, even though he is attached to an OmniPod that injects insulin, the Star Tribune reported.

His family and friends have been searching the steep banks of the Mississippi River, disregarding the police’s discouragement.

"We looked in the culverts. We looked in the trees. I hope he's in the community, in someone's home. I don't really believe he's in the river,” his father, Dale Zamlen, said.

April 2, 2009

Drunk, high driver who killed pregnant passenger charged

The Star Tribune reported that a 21-year-old man was charged Thursday with killing a pregnant passenger after rolling his car on the interstate while intoxicated.

The driver, Frank J. Tregoning, of Otsego, was arrested Wednesday morning and charged Thursday with one count of criminal-vehicular homicide and two counts of criminal-vehicular operation. His bail was set at $100,000, the Star Tribune said.

The crash took place on Aug. 21 on Interstate 94 east of Rogers. Testing revealed that alcohol, morphine and THC were in Tregoning’s system.

Jamie Baer, 22, of Crystal, and Kelsey Palmer, 22, of Otsego, were Tregoning’s passengers.

Baer died several weeks after the crash. Her baby, Angel, was born three months premature. Doctors at the Hennepin County Medical Center delivered Baer’s baby the night of the accident. She was brought in due to head injury.

Palmer survived the accident.

The Star Tribune reported that according to the State Patrol, Tregoning was driving at high speeds around 11:30 p.m. When he switched from the left lane to the center lane, Tregoning lost control, hit an embankment, and rolled his Ford Mustang GT multiple times.

Tregoning was thrown from the vehicle while the two passengers were pinned inside, the Star Tribune said.

Tregoning is scheduled to appear in court on Thursday afternoon, the Star Tribune said.

April 1, 2009

Craigslist killer sentenced to life without parole

The Associated Press reported that a man who killed a Minnesota woman after luring her to his parent’s home by posting a phony online baby-sitting ad was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison without parole.

Michael John Anderson, 20, of Savage, was convicted of first-degree premeditated murder of Katherine Ann Olson, 24, taking place in October 2007, the Associated Press said.

Scott County District Judge Mary Theisen gave Anderson the sentence required by law for first-degree murder convictions.

During the trial, prosecutors said that Anderson ran a phony baby-sitting advertisement on Craigslist to lure a woman to his home so he could experience what it felt like to kill, the Associated Press said.

Anderson’s attorney, Alan Margoles, argued the shooting was accidental. The Associated Press reported that Margoles plans an appeal because he wasn’t able to present evidence that Anderson has Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism, which would have made the shooting accidental more plausible.

Margoles expressed on behalf of Anderson his "deepest regrets for his actions." Anderson sat emotionless and denied comment when he was asked if he wanted to speak for himself, the Star Tribune said.

"Why did you do this? You are the only one who knows and I won't pretend to understand it," Theisen said. She added that Anderson was a "coward" when he shot Olson. Theisen believes she was "running for her life,” the Star Tribune said.

"You have shown no remorse and I have no empathy for you," Theisen said before sentencing him to life in prison. She added that Anderson must pay $6,500 from his prison wages to Olson’s family in restitution to reimburse them for the funeral costs, the Star Tribune said.

Sarah Richter, Olson's older sister, said she can’t get the images of her sister’s death out of her mind.

"I'm haunted by Anderson's face, by Katherine's screams, the gun, her body in the trunk and now, the real bloody images of my sister," she said.

March 27, 2009

University of St. Thomas student dies in Mexico

A 20-year-old St. Thomas student died in Puerto Vallarta while on spring vacation, the Star Tribune reported.

Josh Gunderson was found dead early Tuesday morning, said the officials with the American Consulate General in Guadalajara.

Gunderson was found in a hotel bathroom due to injury to the head, the Star Tribune said.

Gunderson, a graduate of Stillwater High School, is a freshman at the University of St. Thomas. He attended St. Mary's University of Minnesota last year and transferred to St. Thomas this year to study business, Engelking, 20, a St. Thomas sophomore and one of Gunderson's best friends said.

The Star Tribune reported that while in high school, Gunderson was the varsity hokey team captain during his junior and senior years.

At St. Thomas, Gunderson played club hokey. This is how he met and became close friends with Jonathan Meyers, a sophomore, the Star Tribune said.

"Gundy was really a spontaneous person," Meyers told Star Tribune. "He was up for anything and going anywhere. He was a down-to-earth guy. I just loved the kid."

Gunderson’s friends said to be meeting up with St. Thomas student Ashley Jones on the trip to Mexico and may have met other friends there as well. According to Mexican press reports, the Sheraton Hotel room where Gunderson was found dead was registered to David Jensen Zachary.

“There's just been a lot of speculation,” said Blake Gauer, a St. Thomas junior and Gunderson's teammate on the club hockey team.

"What makes this so hard is that this couldn't have happened to a nicer kid," Gauer said.

March 24, 2009

Metro Tranist driver accused of driving drunk

A Metro Transit bus driver was arrested Saturday night for driving intoxicated during his shift, the Star Tribune reported.

Alonzo V. Martin, 46, of St. Paul, was the driver. He was charged with one gross misdemeanor and one misdemeanor count of driving while impaired, the Star Tribune said.

Police stopped Martin around 9:40 Saturday night at the Brooklyn Center Transit Center, the WCCO reported.

The WCCO said that another driver following the bus called 911 to report erratic driving from the bus.

Riders on the bus also complained of Martin’s dangerous driving.

“When he hit the corner he was going too fast and he hit the bump. It was just me and my friends, but it was kind of scary though,” Thomas Cunningham, a rider on the bus, told WCCO.

Shortly after the 911 calls, Martin was pulled over. Police made Martin perform a sobriety test, which determined he was intoxicated. His blood alcohol content level was 0.24, six times the legal limit for commercial drivers, the Star Tribune said.

Martin is on leave while police and the MTC investigate. He has two DUI convictions and several other driving violations, the WCCO said.

Metro Transit said they run background checks on their employees daily. Martin’s pervious DUI convictions were more than 20 years ago, WCCO said.

The Star Tribune reported that Martin is the first driver in the transit agency’s history to be arrested for drunken driving.

“This is a very unique situation. It never before has happened in our history so we want to do a thorough, careful investigation and see where that takes us. In the meantime, we want to apologize to the community and to our riders,” Bob Gibbons of Metro Transit said.

Plymouth teen fals to death in Florida

The WCCO reported that a Plymouth teenager fell 24 stories from a Florida hotel balcony on Sunday while on vacation with his family in Daytona Beach, Fla.

Barret Forst Ugland, 16, was a sophomore at Robbinsdale Armstrong High School in Plymouth, the Star Tribune reported.

Police reported that Ugland fell around 7:00 a.m. Sunday morning. He was staying at the Ocean Walk Resort, the WCCO said.

WCCO reported that police said Ugland was on the balcony to watch the sunrise. He then stood on chairs to get a better view, leading him to fall over the balcony.

Ugland’s fall is believed to be accidental, and he died immediately from impact.

Ugland and his family arrived to Florida on Saturday. They had planned to go golfing on Sunday, the Star Tribune said.

Family and friends of Ugland were shocked to hear of his death.

“It was just unbelievable hearing that he passed away like that. I couldn't really believe it at all,” said Ugland’s friend and classmate Charlie Odell.

Ugland’s high school principle, David Dahl, said he was an excellent student.

“We are deeply saddened to learn today of the death of Barret Ugland,” said Dahl. “We offer our heartfelt support and sympathy to his family.”

The Star Tribune reported that representatives at the Ocean Walk Resort were working with police, but has yet to comment on how the death happened.

The Star Tribune also reported that last year two other victims fell from resort balconies in Daytona.

March 13, 2009

Free employee tution might end at the U

The Star Tribune reported that University of Minnesota employees who take classes for free may soon have to pay 25 percent under President Robert Bruininks’ proposal.

The university spends more than $8 million annually for employee tuition. This proposal is estimated to save the university $2.5 million a year, the Star Tribune said.

More than 1,000 workers signed a petition against the proposal, saying it hits the lowest-paid employees hardest, the Star Tribune reported.

The Star Tribune reported that a regents committee discussed the proposal for the first time on Thursday. If the university does not save the $2.5 million dollars here, there is a possibility of job cuts elsewhere, Regent Clyde Allen said.

The Star Tribune reported that civil service and bargaining unit staff make up 70 percent of the employees who get tuition benefits. Faculty and professors make up only 30 percent.

"The people impacted are those on the lowest end of the pay scale," said Phyllis Walker, president of the local representing American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees clerical workers union, told Star Tribune. "If they have to pay 25 percent, some will have to ask themselves: Do I buy groceries and feed my family, or do I go to school? It's that bad."

This loss could be made up in the federal stimulus law, giving employees taking undergraduate courses a tuition tax credit up to $2,500 a year, said Carol Carrier, vice president for human resources.

The entire Board of Regents will vote on the policy in May, the Star Tribune said.

March 10, 2009

Wis. woman wins lottery after son killed in drive-by shooting

The Star Tribune reported that a Wisconsin woman won the lottery by choosing her children’s ages, one of which was killed in a drive-by shooting in 2005.

Phyllis Canady of Racine, Wis., won $211,000 in the Badger 5 lottery on Sunday. Her winning numbers were that of her children’s ages: 17, 20, 22, 25 and, for her dead son, 29.

Phyllis’s son, Markey Canady, was killed in a drive-by shooting in August 2005. His shooter, Cory A. Brown, is serving 15 years in prison, the Journal Times said.

Although most of Canady’s children are adults, she has been raising many of her grandchildren. She said at one time she was caring for as many as 10 grandchildren, the Journal Times said.

“It’s a struggle, but God must have seen how I been struggling and he gave me a blessing,” Canady said Monday afternoon. Canady found out about her win after reading the newspaper Monday morning, the Journal Times said.

Canady knows what she is putting the money toward.

“I’m buying me a house,” Canady said. “No ifs, ands and buts. I’m getting me a house and helping my grandkids and my other kids.”

Before his death, Markey wanted to become a carpenter. Canady said his dream was to build her a house, the Journal Times reported.

“I’m gonna be right here in Racine,” Canady said. “I’m not going anywhere. I love it. Plus, my son is out there in that cemetery. I would never leave my son.”

March 5, 2009

Proposed ban to restrict head wear in driver license photos

A St. Cloud legislator says a bill that bans any head wear from being worn in driver’s license photos is a matter of public safety, the Pioneer Press reported.

Republican Rep. Steve Gottwalt told the Star Tribune that a ban on head wear would make it easier for law enforcement to identify people and fair for everyone. However, some Muslims say they have a religious duty to wear their head wear at all times.

Suban Khalif and many other Muslim women say that taking off their head wear, even for a few minutes, is a big deal, the Star Tribune said.

Gottwalt’s bill has the exception of a person with a deformity or medical condition that requires headwear to be worn.

March 3, 2009

16-year-old Minneapolis boy arrested in gang-related shooting

A 16-year-old Minneapolis boy was arrested Monday in connection with a gang-related shooting that took place Friday in the parking lot outside the Southdale Shopping Center in Edina injuring two people, the Pioneer Press said.

The shooting is believed to be gang-related involving two rival Hispanic gangs. There seems to have been only one shooter. Police are still interviewing witnesses, police spokeswoman Molly Anderson told the Star Tribune. Police have not disclosed what led to the confrontation.

According to police, the suspect said he was involved in Friday’s shooting in the parking lot outside of J.C. Penney. The boy led police to the handgun that was used in the shooting, a .45-calibur handgun. The Star Tribune reported that at least four shots were fired from the handgun.

Both of the teenagers injured were taken to the Hennepin County Medical Center and survived, police told the Star Tribune. A 15-year-old was shot in the leg and did not suffer serious injury. An 18-year-old who was shot in the stomach had more serious injuries that resulted in surgery, the Star Tribune said.

The Star Tribune reported that the suspect might be charged with attempted murder, police told the Star Tribune. The Hennepin County attorney’s office is determining if the suspect will be charged as an adult.

February 26, 2009

Mexican drug cartel takedown, 27 arrested

An international drug takedown on Wednesday resulted in 27 arrests in connection with a major Mexican drug-trafficking cartel in the Twin Cities, the Star Tribune said.

The Star Tribune reported that law enforcements seized more than 4 pounds of methamphetamine, 6 pounds of cocaine, a pound of marijuana, seven guns, 10 vehicles and approximately $33,000 in U.S. currency.

The Pioneer Press reported that these drug-trafficking cells assisted in the transportation of cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico and Canada, producing about $3.5 million a month, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration said.

The 27 arrests Wednesday were part of a 21-month national and international investigation known as Operation Xcellerator. Nationwide a total of 750 people have been arrested and more than 23 tons of drugs and $59 million in cash were seized, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder told Pioneer Press.

The number of arrests made locally and the quantity of drugs seized makes this one of the Twin Cities’ most extensive drug investigations, Joanna Zoltay, a spokeswoman for the Chicago DEA office told the Star Tribune. More arrests may be made, she said.

The Star Tribune reported along with the $3.5 million dollars circulating in these drug operations, that large amounts of cash had been transported across the U.S./Mexican border.

Thirteen locations around the Twin Cities were searched Wednesday in connections with the drug-trafficking operations, the Star Tribune said.

“It is a proud day for the law enforcement partners in Minnesota, who worked tirelessly to dismantle the targeted organizations that attempted to entrench their methamphetamine and cocaine operations within the Twin Cities,” Gary Olenkiewicz, special agent in charge of DEA's Chicago field division, which covers Minnesota, said in a statement.

February 24, 2009

Four teens charged in gang rape of 13-year-old girl

The Star Tribune reported that four teenage boys were charged Tuesday in Ramsey County in connection with a gang-rape of a 13-year-old Minneapolis girl in a St. Paul neighborhood.

The four boys, one 16, two 15, and one 13, face charges of two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and one of committing the crime for the benefit of a gang, the Star Tribune said.

The rape is suspected to be part of an initiation into Hmong gang called the Mafia Gangsters, Police told Star Tribune.

Police told the Star Tribune that the girl willingly hung out with the boys and drank with them. Her cooperation ended when the boys began to bite, punch, and eventually raped her at a St. Paul’s Dayton Bluff’s neighborhood home, Peter Panos, police spokesperson said.

The girl claimed to be a member the Mafia Gangster, Panos said. It’s possible that the 13-year-old boy was being initiated into the gang.

“For gangs, that's when they try to catch them, right around that age,” Panos told the Star Tribune. “They're looking to see who they are, trying to find something to belong to, an identity.”

The boys are in custody and had their first court appearance Tuesday, the Star Tribune reported. The 16-year-old boy and the two 15-year-old boys may be charged as adults, this will be determined in their trial scheduled for March 17. The 13-year-old boy is scheduled to appear in court March 20, the Star Tribune reported.

February 20, 2009

Suspect in Cleveland rape case arrested in Duluth

One of two men accused of raping two Ohio girls was arrested in Duluth, Minn.

Kevin B. Gregory, 23, was arrested Wednesday after the police got a tip that he was in the area, Duluth Police said.

Gregory is wanted on 19 counts of rape and 18 counts of kidnapping and intimidation of a victim or witness, Duluth and Cleveland police said.

It is unknown how long Gregory was in Duluth or his intentions of going there. There is no indication that Gregory committed any crimes while in Duluth, said Duluth Police Sgt. Ann Clancey.

Gregory of Charlotte, N.C., and another teenage male suspect of Cleveland, are accused of forcing the girls to perform oral sex and engaging in vaginal and anal sex, police in Cleveland said.

February 17, 2009

10 injured in Hastings' fire

The Star Tribune reported that a fire in a Hastings’ apartment complex early this morning caused residents to evacuate and left several residents and fire rescuers with minor injuries.

A community coordinator for the city, Shannon Rausch, told Star Tribune that the fire started around 2 a.m. in the south building of the Valley Manor apartment complex in the 1000 block of Lyn Way. Six people were rescued from the third floor. The Hastings police were the first on the scene, Rausch said.

The officials are being credited for displaying acts of heroism. “Within just a minute of rescue, the fire vented through the outside patio door and then engulfed the entire apartment,” fire chief, Mike Schutt, told Star Tribune. “It was a pretty serious rescue the police performed.”

Most of the residents were able to escape safely. However, five residents, two Dakota County Sheriff's deputies, two Hastings police officers and a firefighter were taken to Reginal Medical Center in Hastings for minor injuries, Rausch said.

Firefighters from the Hastings’ Fire Department and the Cottage Grove Fire Department worked together to distinguish the flames, the Star Tribune said.

A spokesperson for the Valley Manor apartment complex said that the fire didn’t affect the north side of the complex.

The cause of the fire is unknown and investigation continues, Schutt told Star Tribune.

Egan Principal allegedly forced 6-year-old to clean toilet bowl

The Star Tribune reported that an Egan principal might be fired after allegedly making a 6-year-old student clean out a toilet bowl barehanded.
Rahn Elementary School Principal Doug Steele said the toilet bowl only contained water and paper towels, the Star Tribune said.

The Star Tribune reported that the incident occurred after the kindergarten boy used a single occupant bathroom in his classroom. He used paper towels instead of toilet paper that caused the toilet to clog.

When the boy’s teacher found out, she notified the principal. Steele then allegedly made the boy clean out the clogged toilet and put the paper towels in a wastebasket, the Star Tribune said.

The boys’ parents, Elijah and Shannon Hannah of Eagan, filed a complaint against Steele on Dec. 12 and said that if the district doesn’t fire Steele that they will consider legal action, the Pioneer Press said.

Steele’s attorney, Roger Aronson, told Star Tribune that firing Steele would be too harsh of a penalty. He said that what Steele did was wrong, but “it wasn’t some gross form of punishment.”

Steele was put on paid administrative leave in December. District spokesperson, Ruth Dunn, told Pioneer Press that Elaine Mehdizadeh became the interim principal of Rhan Elementary on Dec. 16.

Steele will have a hearing closed to the public, Aronson told Star Tribune.

Meanwhile, the boy remains in his usual class at Rahn Elementary School.

February 12, 2009

St. Anthony couple surrendered 120 cats, likely not to be adoptable

The Animal Humane Society believes that the 120 cats that were rescued from a St. Anthony mobile home on Tuesday are not adoptable the Star Tribune said.

Stanley and Cheryl Saladis housed 120 cats in their 500-square-foot mobile home in Lowry Grove. The conditions were unhealthy for the cats.

“The conditions were absolutely deplorable,? Kathie Johnson, director of animal services for the humane society told the Pioneer Press. “It was one of the worst houses I've ever been in. It was literally wall-to-wall cats.?

The Pioneer Press reported that the husband and wife slept on a mattress in the kitchen surrounded by the cats. It was also reported that the couple’s clothing was covered in cat wastes.

This is not the first time the Saladis couple has surrendered their animals. In 2002, the couple gave up 72 of their animals from their home in Coon Rapids, the Pioneer Press said.

The Star Tribune reported that the Animal Humane Society believes that the cats rescued Tuesday will not be adoptable. The veterinarians have witnessed health and behavioral problems.

“They are damaged from their marginalized environment… both psychologically and physically,? Kathie Johnson, director of animal services, told the Star Tribune.

Officials told the Star Tribune that the house smelled of cat urine and feces.

The Pioneer Press reported that Ty Story, a Lowry Grove resident and vice president of the homeowner's association, was not aware of the situation until it was surfaced earlier this week.

“No one knew they had that many cats. They weren't letting the cats outside,? Story told Pioneer Press.

The Saladis couple ruined the interior of their home by keeping the cats inside. Their home was deemed inhabitable and they were given 10 days to clean it, the Pioneer Press said.

The Star Tribune reported that the Saladis couple might face animal neglect misdemeanor charges.

No charges have been filed.

February 11, 2009

Little Canada man sentenced 20 years for child pornography

A Little Canada man was sentenced 20 years in prison for producing child pornography while babysitting.

U.S. District Judge David Doty sentenced Aaron Jay Lemon, 23, on Tuesday after he admitted to producing child pornography while babysitting in August 2007 the Star Tribune said.

The Star Tribune reported Lemon answered a Craigslist advertisement for a baby sitter and used the child in the pornography.

Craigslist received criticism after this incident, along with many others. MSNBC reported Feb. 5 that a San Diego man allegedly tried to sell his kidney for $100,000 on Craigslist.

The Arizona Republic also reported on Feb. 5 that a Phoenix man was stabbed and robbed when he was expecting to meet a female escort that he found on Craigslist.

Craigslist is based out of San Francisco. It is making efforts to protect its users.

The Star Tribune reported that last year Craigslist joined a pact with more than 40 other states to prevent child exploitation, prostitution, human trafficking, and other illegal activities from being posted on its Web site.

February 6, 2009

Serial groping suspect arrested and charged

The Minnesota Daily reported that a 41-year-old Minneapolis man suspected of groping women near the University of Minnesota admitted to the crimes and was charged with fifth-degree sexual conduct.

Phillip W. Acosta was arrested Tuesday night on the university’s west bank after two women reported being sexually assaulted. Nancy Dunlap, head of the Minneapolis Police Department's sex crime unit, told Star Tribune that Acosta confessed to grabbing the genital areas of at least 10 women.

According to the Minnesota Daily the Police believe there may be other victims who have not come forward. All of the victims are believed to be students at the university.

All of the assaults occurred on campus or on near sidewalks. Acosta would approach the women from behind, out of site, while either walking or riding his bike. The assaults took place during all times of the day. “He certainly wasn't afraid of being seen," University Police Chief Greg Hestness told Star Tribune.

Acosta had a minor criminal history, nothing that would link him to these crimes. The Minnesota Daily reported that Acosta wasn’t a suspect prior to his arrest.

“It really is invasive, it’s sexual in nature and it really undermines our female students or any woman’s comfort in walking about the streets freely,? Hestness told the Minnesota Daily.

The Star Tribune reported that Minneapolis police issued a crime alert this week after two women were assaulted. The university police increased patrol on campus and a campus-wide e-mail was sent out to students and staff to inform them of the situation.

After announcements of Acosta’s arrest, a victim who spoke with the Minnesota Daily said “I just feel a lot better about walking to class.?

February 5, 2009

Brooklyn Park man sentenced for killing wife

The Star Tribune reported a Brooklyn Park man was found not guilty Thursday of first-degree murder and manslaughter after killing his wife in broad daylight.

Michael Collins Iheme, 51, shot his wife, Anthonia Iheme, 28, seven times after she allegedly told her husband that he wasn’t the father of their youngest child. Michael’s attorneys argued that it wasn’t a meditated slaying, but rather in spite of passion reported the Star Tribune.

According to the Star Tribune, Michael killed Anthonia in the parking lot of Sholom Home West, the nursing home that Anthonia worked at in St. Louis Park, on July 24.

There were indications of predetermination said Deborah Russell, Assistant Hennepin County Attorney General. Michel signed his car over to his roommate and left new emergency contact information at their son and daughter’s day car center reported the Star Tribune.

After hours of deliberation, the jury found Michael Iheme guilty of second-degree murder and likely to be sentenced to about 32 years in prison.

January 29, 2009

Minneapolis man dies after tasered by police

Quincy DeShawn Smith, 24, died Dec. 9 after being tasered by Minneapolis police. After the case was ruled as a homicide Smith’s mother pushes for further investigation.

The police arrived at 1000 block of Knox Avenue N. after there was a report made of domestic assault involving a man with a gun. After struggling with police, Smith was tasered and taken to Hennepin County Medical Center where he later experienced medical complications and died.

Whether the Taser shock was the cause of death is unknown.

Smith’s mother, Betty Smith, wants all the truths brought forward. She is now providing for her grandson who no longer has a father.

Betty Smith told Star Tribune that “I have a grandson whose father was taken away wrongly, and he has to grow up and honor his dad, but he also needs to know the truth about what happened.?

The case has been brought forward to the Hennepin County attorney’s office for ongoing investigation. There have been no further updates since.

Armed robber takes thousands from Minneapolis pharmacy

An armed robber took $15 thousand worth of neurotics from a Fairview Pharmacy in Northeast Minneapolis on Monday.

The robbery took place just before 1 p.m. according to the Star Tribune

The robber was armed with a knife and threatened the employees. The man has yet to be found but police are investigating.

The Star Tribune described the suspect as a white male, about 6 feet tall, small facial feature, a shaved head, light complexion, and a thin build. Anyone that may have information about this suspect should contact Minneapolis Police.