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December 7, 2007

Worker falls to his death in downtown Minneapolis

A man clearing snow off the roof of the IDS Tower's Crystal Court in downtown Minneapolis fell to his death Wednesday around 2 p.m., reports the Star Tribune.
Fidel Danilo Sanchez-Flores, one of two men cleaning the roof, fell five to six stories to his death. The men both worked for Columbia Building Services, a small northeast Minneapolis business. Sanchez-Flores, 52, lived in West St. Paul.
This incident kept the Crystal Court closed the rest of the day, though no one on the ground was hurt. This is at least the third death in downtown Minneapolis involving a worker falling from a building.
Michelle Ochs, who works downtown described the event as something from a movie. She was walking on the skyway level of the Crystal Court when she heard a crash and saw Plexiglas shards fall to the granite floor. Sanchez-Flores landed near the Christmas tree.
Silence followed by gasps and screams filled the court as rescue workers tried to resuscitate him. Efforts failed and a white sheet was placed over the body. Security guards closed off the entrances.
Questions about whether his harness was attached have been raised.

Bloomington man charged with felony cruelty for poisoning his neighbors dog

A Bloomington man was charged with felony cruelty to animals Thursday after allegedly poisoning his neighbors dog with pesticide, reported the Star Tribune.
According to the criminal complaint filed in Hennepin County District Court, Aaron John Maenke placed a container of pesticide used to kill flies inside his neighbors fence, where their 2-year-old black lab was. The complaint also stated that Maenke bought the pesticide with the intent to poison the dog.
A McClelland family member came home and found the dog, Jesse, foaming at the mouth. They rushed to the vet, but the dog died on the way.
The McClelland family dog was a trained hunting dog who had gone on hunting trips with the family.
"I'm just horrified over this," Patrick McClellan said today in response to the charges being filed. "He was a harmless, beautiful black lab."
If convicted, Maenke could be charged a fine of $5,000 and/or serve up to two years in jail.

December 1, 2007

Two St. Paul men charged with robbing two others and making them strip

Two St. Paul men were charged with first-degree aggravated robbery this week after they allegedly held two Wisconsin college students at knifepoint while robbing them, making them strip and telling them to run into the woods, reports the Pioneer Press.
Gary Gene Littlesoldier, 18, and James Wayne Davis-Drew, 19, followed the two students to a party late Saturday night. The 19 and 21-year-old who attend school in Eau Claire, Wis., left the party after feeling uncomfortable around the others at the party.
Littlesoldier and Davis-Drew asked the students for a cigarette, then flashed a knife with a 3- to 4- inch blade. They ordered the victims into the backseat of their car. Davis-Drew drove to the Lower Afton and Battle Creek area of St. Paul while Littlesoldier held one of the victims in a headlock.
There the victims' cell phones, wallets and clothes. Littlesoldier and Davis-Drew told them to run into the woods and that they would be killed if they contacted police.
The students ran wearing only socks and boxer shorts. They knocked on several doors before someone agreed to let them call the police.

First snow storm causes traffic accidents

The Minnesota Department of Transportation reported 137 traffic accidents statewide between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday as the first snow accumulated on the ground. Eighty-eight of those were in the Twin Cities metropolitan area, but none were with any serious injuries, reports the Star Tribune.
Snow started falling Saturday morning and continued throughout the day. Many places, including the Twin Cities, were covered in one to three inches by midday.
Many residents went out Saturday morning to stock up at grocery and hardware stores. The snow is forecast to continue and accumulate to as many as 16 inches in some parts of the state, according to the National Weather Service.
MnDOT reported difficult driving conditions from all areas of the state. Southern Minnesota was seeing snow mixed with sleet come down and gusts of wind up to 20 mph.
State Patrol Lt. Tom Schmitz said the best driving plan in this kind of storm is none. He suggests to not put your schedule before your safety. Reducing speed, using headlights and seat belts and leaving plenty of room between vehicles are all good precautions to take.

November 18, 2007

Mankato student dies after being hit by a car, another injured

A Minnesota State University student died and another was injured after both were hit by a car early Sunday while walking home from a sorority event in Mankato, reports the Star Tribune and WCCO.
The women's names have not been released, and neither has the name of the 17-year-old driver who hit them on 3rd Avenue near Kingswood Drive. The women were both in their early 20s and were upperclassmen at MSU.
Apparently one had been lying in the street and the other was helping her up when they were struck at 12:47 a.m. Both were rushed to Immanuel St. Joseph Hospital in Mankato where one was pronounced dead and the other underwent surgery. Police said this happened on streets in an industrial area, not near any sorority residences.
"Our deepest, heartfelt sympathies go out to loved ones, fellow students, friends and acquaintances," said MSUM president Richard Davenport, "and we extend our wishes for a speedy, complete recovery to the injured student. The campus community is tremendously saddened by this tragic event."
Grief counseling has been set up at the university and a memorial is being planned. This is the second death of a student caused by a vehicle this school year. Catherine Delwiche, a freshman cross-country runner, was struck and killed last month.

November 13, 2007

Guilty plea in fatal metro transit shooting last April

Jerome Pablo Cross pleaded guilty Tuesday in Ramsey County District Court to second-degree intentional murder in the shooting death of Earl Ray Freeman aboard a bus in downtown St. Paul last April, reports the Star Tribune and the Pioneer Press.
The shot was a result of a fight between two groups of youth. Freeman, 16, and two others got on a Route 74 bus at 5th and Minnesota. Cross, aka Ro-Ro, got on a couple of blocks later. He intended to shoot Emmett Wilson-Shaw, who had boarded the bus with the victim.
The bullet hit Freeman, who was sitting next to Wlison-Shaw, in the chest. Cross told the court today that he threw out the gun and his gloves, then went home to sleep.
The guilty plea did not make amends between the groups of supporters for both the defendant and the victim. A fight broke out in the hallway after the court hearing. However, it was quickly stopped by sheriff deputies and police.
The case was to go before a Grand Jury on Wednesday to consider a first-degree murder charge, which carries a life sentence. Cross was certified to be tried as an adult, and the guilty plea today came one day before his 18th birthday.
Sentencing has been set for Jan. 4.

November 11, 2007

St. Paul girl raped Wednesday, arrest made Saturday

A 17-year-old girl was raped late Wednesday when a man forced his way into her home on St. Paul's East Side, reported the Pioneer Press. Police arrested a 19-year-old St. Paul man late Saturday, reported the Star Tribune.
Police received a call shortly after 5 p.m. Wednesday from a home on the 600 block of East Jessamine Avenue. The girl said a man had knocked on the door, then forced his way in and assaulted her. She was taken to Regions Hospital.
The man, whose name was not released, was arrested around 8 p.m. Saturday. He was booked into Ramsey County jail on suspicion of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and on an outstanding probation-violation warrant.
Police offered little information about the case but said they were issuing an announcement about the arrest "because of the grave concerns of the residents of the East Side and all of St. Paul's citizens after this brazen attack."

November 9, 2007

Former Mankato student had an "incredibly high" blood-alcohol reading the night of her death

Amanda Jax, the former Minnesota State University Mankato student who died of alcohol poisoning early Oct. 30, had a blood alcohol level of 0.46 the night of her death, police reported in the Star Tribune. That is nearly six times the legal limit for driving in Minnesota.
Jax, who was taking the semester off from school, was in Mankato celebrating her 21st birthday on the night of Oct. 29. Friends were unsure how much she had drank and took her to an off-campus apartment. Friends called 911 after finding Jax unresponsive in the morning.
Mankato Public Safety Director Matt Westermayer said he has "maybe once" seen an alcohol level that high during his 21 years working in law enforcement. Only a handful of similar cases were found in a nationwide news report search.
"The death of Amanda Jax is a tragedy ... that should have never occurred," Westermayer said. "Binge drinking ... is a very serious problem with devastating effects as the death of Amanda Jax so clearly and cruelly illustrates."
A Facebook page dedicated to Jax's life shows pictures and memories of her. Some also commented on the anger that is felt about Jax being labeled a binge drinker.

November 1, 2007

Former Mankato student dies after celebrating her 21st birthday

A woman died in Mankato after celebrating her 21st birthday with friends, reports the Star Tribune and Mankato's Free Press.
Amanda Jax, a student set to start nursing school this spring, was found dead in an apartment near Minnesota State University Mankato (MSU) early Tuesday. Police said it "appears that alcohol played a significant role in the death of Ms. Jax" after she "became quite intoxicated."
Although Jax's death is definitely a tragedy, police say they expect this sort of thing to happen. Binge drinking is common among college students, and their 21st birthday is no exception.
Everyone knew Jax as a girl who brought energy to every situation. “She was an amazing person. A person everyone loved,? said Dan Regnier, a friend of Jax. “I remember her being extremely smart. She was always dedicated to what she was doing.?
In recent years, college binge drinking has come into the light and caused college health departments to raise awareness. “Maverick Health,? a publication for Mankato students did a feature on 21st birthdays in 2005, encouraging students not to pressure the birthday boy or girl to drink more than they should.
Also set up to curve binge drinking, "Mavericks After Dark," was started. This is a program in which MSU provides activities for students to do instead of drink on weekend nights. Some of the events have been very successful, while other have not had high attendence, said Wendy Schuh, MSU’s alcohol and drug education coordinator.
The University of Minnesota has a program, "Gophers After Dark," which aims to do the same thing.

October 29, 2007

Charges filed in 2005 drive-by shooting case

Charges were filed against a Minneapolis man Friday in the case of a 2005 drive-by killing, reports the Star Tribune.
Artaives Brown, 24, was shot to death on Feb. 22 after an argument with Marcus Champs, 20, at a Roosevelt High School basketball game.
Both men left the school in their cars and Champs began to chase Brown. He caught up to him around 9 p.m. near E. 37th Street and Cedar Avenue S when Champs shot at Brown five times, the charges said.
Brown was driven to the hospital, where he died, by someone else in his car.
Police said he was a gang member at the time, but his mother denied it. Champs will be tried as an adult even though he was 17 at the time of the shooting.

October 28, 2007

Minneapolis woman dead after answering ad posted on Craigslist

Answering a Craigslist ad for a nanny job Thursday morning may have led to a Minneapolis woman's death, police said in the Star Tribune and the Savage Pacer.
The body of Katherine Ann Olson, 24, was found in the trunk of her car late Friday in Rudy Kraemer Park Preserve in Burnsville. The search for her began after the Savage Police Department had received a call about a purse found in a garbage can at Pacer Park in Savage.
Police discovered the purse belonged to Olson and left her a message Friday saying they it. Olson's roommate returned the call later that day and said she hadn't seen her since she left Thursday morning to answer an ad posted on Craigslist. This turned into a search for a missing person.
Police went back to Pacer Park, where Olson's purse had been found, and searched for more clues. A bloody towel was found also inside a garbage bag.
A helicopter was called to use heat sensing to search Pacer Park. That was unsuccessful, but as the helicopter was leaving the scene it spotted a car parked at Rudy Kraemer Park Reserve. The car was identified as Olson's and searched. Her body was in the trunk.
The cause of death was not released. Neither was the name of the suspect, a 19-year-old Savage man who police have in custody. He is expected to be charged as early as today.

October 23, 2007

Man dies after contracting rabies from a bat

A man died Saturday from rabies, said the Minnesota Department of Health in the Star Tribune and Pioneer Press. This was only the second case of rabies in Minnesota in the last seven years.
The man had been working around his cabin in north central Minnesota when he was bitten by a bat on his hand. He said it felt like a needle prick and it did not draw blood, so he thought he had not been bitten.
The man who was in his 40s sought medical treatment at multiple facilities during the two months since he was bitten. Health care workers that treated him are being tested and some are receiving preventive treatment.
Approximately one to three cases of rabies are reported in the United States every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Minnesota has had cases in 1917, 1964, 1975 and 2000. All were fatal.

October 19, 2007

ATM found in foreclosed North Minneapolis house

An ATM found inside a foreclosed North Minneapolis house Saturday confuses investigators, reports the Star Tribune.
A city inspector found the machine while examining the house. It was pried open and all the money was gone. Now forensics are trying to find evidence that could lead them to a suspect.
ATM theft is not a common crime, but it does happen. The serial numbers on the machine found Saturday were compared with those on an ATM taken from the campus of Hamline University in St. Paul last month, but they were not a match.

Three killed in early morning crash

Three people are dead after an early-morning car crash on I-35 near Lakeville. police said. The crossover accident that happened around 2:15 a.m. involved a car, a semi-trailer and another truck reports the Star Tribune.
The victims names have not been released but all were taken to Regina Hospital in Hastings where they died.
The male driver,20, was traveling with his mother, 46, and another female relative, 22, in the vehicle. The male was from Minnetonka and both women were from Mound.
The Ford Taurus was heading northbound when it ran into the back of a semi-trailer. This caused the driver to lose control, hit the median and cross into the southbound lane where it hit another truck head on, reports WCCO. The drivers of the other vehicles were not hurt.
Police closed I-35 for almost four hours while they investigated and clean-up the accident. Alcohol does not appear to be a factor. The road was likely wet at the time of the accident.

October 12, 2007

Oldest female prison inmate is set to be released soon

A woman thought to be the oldest female inmate in the country is almost finished serving her time, reports WCCO Thursday.
Lucille Keppen, 93, is set to be released Wednesday from the women's prison in Shakopee. She is serving time for shooting a former friend in the back five years ago in a Northeast senior apartment building.
The victim Stephen Flesche, 61, had what was described as a mother-son relationship with Keppen for approximately four years before it turned sour. Keppen seems to have little regret about shooting Flesche in the back in 2002.
When interviewed by WCCO three years ago, she wasn't sure if she would live to see her prison sentence end.
"I can't believe I am going to be going out that door!" said Keppen. "It is going to be so nice to just be by myself -- eat when you're hungry and do things when you feel like it."

Fatal shooting early Friday morning becomes Mineapolis' 37th homicide

An unidentified man died early Friday morning near downtown Minneapolis from gunshot wounds, reports the Star Tribune and WCCO. He is the 37th homicide victim in Minneapolis this year.
The man was found near the intersection of 14th Street and Portland Avenue S when police were called there around 4 a.m. No arrests have been made and the victim's identity has not been released.
Police closed some of the surrounding streets to collect evidence, but they have been reopened now.

October 7, 2007

Two stabbed in large St. Paul fight

A boy and a man were stabbed Saturday in a St. Paul fight involving 30 to 50 people, reported the Star Tribune and Pioneer Press.
Calls reporting a fight on the 1200 block of Bush Avenue came in around 10:15 p.m. Both of the stabbing victims, a 15-year-old and a 21-year-old, were taken to Regions Hospital by ambulance. The wounds appeared to have been caused by a sickle.
The fight started after uninvited guests showed up at a birthday party. Up to 50 people joined, grabbing nearby objects as weapons. No other information was available and witnesses weren't talking to police.

October 5, 2007

Zebra muscles found in area lakes

Invasive zebra mussels were found in three lakes that are part of St. Paul drinking water system, according to the Star Tribune and Pioneer Press.
The nearly 420,000 people that the system serves should not be worried because the zebra mussels do not affect the quality of the water, said Steve Schneider, general manager for St. Paul Regional Water Services. The company provides water for St. Paul and eight suburbs.
St. Paul Regional Water Services found the zebra mussels while doing routine maintenance at Vadnais Lake. The mussels were also found in Sucker and Pleasant lakes, and the connecting canals.
Although the mussels don't affect drinking water quality, they can cause clogs in pipes which can increase maintenance costs. They can also smother native mussels and lead to a change in the ecosystem.
The zebra mussels were originally found in the Great Lakes thought to be brought from Europe in ships' ballast water. In recent years they spread to the upper part of the Mississippi River and continued to spread. At least 29 water bodies in Minnesota are infested with the exotic zebra mussels.

September 29, 2007

Teens arrested in DHL delivery driver shooting

Two teens have been arrested in connection with a Thursday shooting of a delivery driver in north Minneapolis, according to the Star Tribune.
The teens, 15 and 17, were arrested later Thursday and Friday morning respectively.
The incident happened around 2 p.m. near 29th and Oliver Avenues N. The DHL delivery driver was completing a delivery when he was shot inside his van.
The driver then drove to a hardware store on Lowry and Penn Avenues N. Employees called 911 and the injured driver was taken to North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale where his injuries were declared not life, threatening.
The 17-year-old boy is no stranger to the police. He has been arrested at least 10 times.
This incident adds to thought that juvenile crime rates are increasing in the metro area. Mayor R.T. Rybak addressed the issue saying, "We need to ask parents, guardians and the community to help us and to help keep guns out of the hands of kids. Youth violence is an epidemic in this city, state and country. I am outraged as a parent and as the mayor. We need tougher enforcement, and we will continue to look at the issues why some youth turn to violence."

September 25, 2007

Man allegedly ripped the head off a domesticated duck

A Denver businessman was charged for allegedly ripping the head off a duck while staying in a St. Paul hotel last Saturday, according to reports in both the Star Tribune and WCCO.
Scott D. Clark, 26, was charged Monday with felony animal cruelty after making his first court appearance. Bail was posted and he was released Monday afternoon. This charge is punishable by up to two years in prison and up to a $5,000 fine.
The incident happened early Saturday inside the Embassy Suites hotel downtown St. Paul. Onlookers say that Clark cornered the duck, grabbed it and ripped its head off, telling them he was hungry. He was allegedly drunk.
When police tried to arrest Clark, he became belligerent, saying that he was a federal employee and would have their jobs. He asked officers if he was in trouble and after hearing "yes," Clark said, "Why, because I killed it out of season? Big deal, it's just a [expletive] duck."
But these ducks have been a member of the Embassy Suites' family for many years. Seven or eight ducks swim in the ponds and wander the walkways of the lobby for guests to enjoy. Rosco Larson, general manager of the Embassy Suites, said Monday, "... we are deeply saddened by this incident."

September 19, 2007

Twin Cities Traffic: Normal or not?

According to WCCO's Reality Check , extra travel time is needed to get anywhere in the Twin Cities area. They suggest adding six minutes for a drive that should take 20. Then factor in weather and possible accidents along they way and add eight more minutes. Now a drive that used to take 20 minutes, is estimated to take 34, reported Pat Kessler on Tuesday.
The average Twin Cities driver wastes 43 hours sitting in traffic, according to a new report out Tuesday. That along with other numbers make the metro area the third worst in the nation for traffic congestion among cities with a population between 1 and 3 million. San Diego and Denver are first and second respectively.
Also reported was the time spent on the roads is costing driver's more, $1.1 billion to be exact, in lost time and money. Forty-two million gallons of gas are also burned up as a result of stop and go traffic. But is that the whole truth?
A report on Sept 14 from the Pioneer Press states that most drivers still spend less than half an hour getting to work every morning, whether it be driving a car, riding a bicycle, using public transportation or walking.
The numbers reported by the U.S. Census Bureau state that 66 percent of Twin Cities workers spent 29 minutes or less getting to work in 2006, and one in four reported a commute of 15 minute or less.
The Pioneer Press article does go on to say that those numbers were collected before the collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge. This has had an obvious effect on traffic flow.

A man shot and killed by St. Paul police

A call sending St. Paul police to a house on York St. Tuesday ended with one man dead and two officers on administrative leave, reported by both the Pioneer Press and WCCO.
The man police officers shot and killed was identified as Donald Gartner, 34.
Reports from the two sources differ as to who called police Tuesday night. The Pioneer Press reports that neighbors called about two men fighting with pipes in the backyard, while WCCO specultaes it was Gartner's girlfriend, Gloria "Tootsie" Telin.
When officers arrived, Gartner and Telin were the only people at the home. Telin had "obvious signs of domestic assault" and when police tried to arrest Gartner, he grabbed a knife.
The dispute continued outside the house, with Gartner lunging at officers. He kept the knife in hand after officers had told him to drop his weapon. Telin had locked herself inside the house. Officers shot Gartner, who was then taken to Regions Hospital in St. Paul where he later died.
The officers, Jessica Phillips and Cory Kochendorfer, are both on adminastrative leave. This is standard procedure after being involved in a shooting.

September 16, 2007

Minneapolis homicide investigation continues

The death of a man in south MInneapolis last week was ruled a homicide Saturday by police, reported both the Star Tribune and Pioneer Press.
Mark Loesch, 41, left his home in south Minneapolis around 11:30 Wednesday night to go for a bike ride, which was one of his hobbies. He never returned home that night and was found around 7 a.m. Thursday morning on the 3700 block of Elliot Avenue S. Loesch was lying on a lawn and barely breathing. He died before paramedics arrived.
The Hennepin County Medical Examiner's office said Loesch died from multiple blunt-force head impacts.
Police continue the investigation, but have made no arrests.

September 11, 2007

Chaska Social Host Law

According to the Star Tribune, the city of Chaska is now able to punish those persons who provide a venue to underage drinkers, even if they did not provide the alcohol. This is the first to be passed in Minnesota, but it is thought that Carver County may follow suit.
Chaska's city council voted and unanimously passed the Social Host Ordinance Monday night despite knowing the county was considering the same law. Carver County Commissioner Randy Maluchnik isn't sure the social host law could pass in the entire county because of certain behaviors that are acceptable in rural areas.
The Chaska Herald reported that the parents and police present at the meeting seemed to be very much in favor of the new law. Most see it as another way to protect teens by keeping their parents from giving them alcohol.
The law does have some exceptions including those parties held at houses without the parents or landowners knowledge and certain religious holidays and celebrations.