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December 8, 2007

Woman brought 3-year-old to burglary

The Star Tribune reported that three people were arrested for burglary in Andover, including a woman who brought her 3-year-old with her.

The three people allegedly broke into an apartment building and stole money from laundry machines in the building early Wednesday, said Sherburne County Sheriff Bruce Anderson.

The police were called at around 2 a.m. after a resdient reported seeing suspicious people in the building and hearing sounds of what possibly could have been someone breaking into the coin machines at the apartments on West 10th Street, police said.

The St, Cloud Times reported that there were clear signs of forced entry into the building when the police had arrived, Anderson said.

A van was spotted leaving the location and was shortly there after stopped by an officer. Inside were the three suspects and a 3-year-old child, along with evidence of the burglary in the van.

"Sherry Johnston, 32, of Andover; Brian Williams, 25, of Blaine; and Christoper Verwey, 26, of Lino Lakes; were arrested and taken to Sherburne County Jail," the St. Cloud Times reported.

The 3-year-old child was released to family members.

The child's mother along with the other two men face charges of conspiracy to commit burglary.


Teen shot in Roosevelt High School parking lot

The Star Tribune reported that a 19-year-old man was shot Thursday outstide of Roosevelt High School.

Police are currently in search of the gunman that fired and hit the man in the school parking lot at 4029 28th Av. S.

The man was hit with a bullet in the cheek and taken to the Hennepin County Medical Center, police said. He is expected to be released Friday, Sgt. Jesse Garcia, a Minneapolis Police Department spokesman, told the Star Tribune.

Fox News reported that the shooting occured at 9 p.m., while a Roosevelt girls basketball game was taking place in the school. The victim had been identified as having attended the game, but is not a student at the school.

It is still unknown if the shooting was related to an incident at the game where a group was asked to leave, officials said.

"Sergeant Fred McCormick of the Minneapolis Park Police says investigators think a group of young men were standing outside when someone came from around a corner and fired into the group from about 500 feet away," Fox News reported.

The name of the victim has yet to be released.

December 1, 2007

Snow storm hits Minnesota

The Star Tribune reported that a vast majority of the state of Minnesota was put under a winter storm warning Saturday as the state witnessed its first winter storm of the year.

The snow began falling in western Minnesota Saturday morning. It is predicted that many areas around the state will see as much snow accumulation of about six inches. Northeastern and central-eastern parts of the state may even see up to 16 inches of snow, the National Weather Service said.

The Pioneer Press reported that the Minnesota Department of Transportation has been preparing for the storm, which they were told about days in advance.

"The department has more than 800 snowplows at 150 stations throughout the state, including 18 stations in the Twin Cities metropolitan area, and nearly 1,500 snowplow operators," the Pioneer Press reported.

The plows will be needed to help clear off the roads as quickly as possible to increase the safety for those driving in the storm, that has reduced the visibility in some areas to only a quarter mile.

As many as 137 traffic accidents were reported across the state of Minnesota including 88 in the Twin Cities between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., MnDOT reported.

Drivers are urged to reduce speeds, buckle up, use headlights and increase following distance to try to avoid accidents, police said.

The Star Tribune reported that with days of advanced notice of the storm, Minnesota residents have prepared by buying shovels, as well as sand and salt.

Temperatures are expected to remain in the low 20's for the duration of the storm, which is expected to continue until early Sunday morning.

November 28, 2007

Death at Ramsey Co. jail leads to added nurse

The Star Tribune reported that the death of a jail inmate in October due to complications from diabetes led to the addition of a night nurse Tuesday in the county budget.

Randy Gallmeyer was found dying in his jail cell on Oct. 21 due to complications from diabetes that may have been prevented with a night nurse on staff, Sheriff Bob Fletcher told the Star Tribune. He had only been in the jail for 34 hours before he was rushed to Regions Hospital in St. Paul where he died soon the next morning.

Gallmeyer's death led to talks about whether the jail was providing proper medical care. Adding a night nurse to the jail's staff was quickly proposed.

MSNBC reported that Ramsey County board members voted 6-1 Tuesday at a budget meeting in favor of adding a night nurse as well as a part-time clerical worker to the 2008-09 budget. The two positions will combine for an added $163,000 for the budget. The final decision will be made Dec. 18.

A nurse will immediately be hired for the jail, director Rob Fulton told the Star Tribune.

Gallmeyer was found in his cell with a blood sugar level almost 10 times over the normal level. He had refused two glucose level checks earlier in his stay at the jail.

It is possible that with a night nurse on staff they may have been able to recognize that Gallmeyer needed the test. Others on staff are not educated to realize the severity of his condition.

"It's difficult for the staff to make medical evaluations after 10 o'clock, and they generally tend to err on the side of sending them to the hospital," Fletcher told the Star Tribune. "But they don't have the expertise, and so it's far preferable that trained medical staff are on site and can make those decisions."

The decision to add a nurse to the staff is done in hope of preventing any future deaths at the jail.

November 16, 2007

U adds text message to emergency alert system

The Star Tribune reported that the University of Minnesota turned to text messages as a form of an emergency alert for students and faculty Friday.

The university has creted the TXT-U option that is available to students and faculty that wish to be alerted of emergencies around the university.

Minnesota Public Radio
reported that students and faculty would be sent a text message to their phones with details about the situation and what they should do.

The instantaneous nature of a text message makes university officials believe that this is a great way to spread the news quickly.

"There was a huge uproar that it took four hours to deliver 60,000 e-mails after the bomb scare [on the university's Twin Cities campus] a couple of days after Virginia Tech," university spokesman Daniel Wolter told the Star Tribune.

In case of an emergency the university could send up to 30,000 text message within a minute. This would provide students and faculty with more time to respond to such events.

The texts will be used sparingly, however, to ensure that students don't ignore the messages. They will only be used for emergencies such as bomb threats or to report a students has been spotted with a gun on campus. The emergency texts will not be used for minor theft reports.

"Text messaging technology is something students use daily, if not hourly. Any way that the administration can help increase safety, especially on things that have happened before -- (such as) at Virginia Tech -- is really a good thing," Emma Olson, undergraduate student body president at the university, told Minnesota Public Radio.

This idea gained support after the shooting at Virginia Tech that occurred last spring. A quicker alert system was needed to inform students.

Other schools in Minnesota have adopted similar plans, including St. Thomas and the University of Minnesota-Duluth.

TXT-U will cost the university $10,000 per year, and they can use it as often as they want.

Work on I-35W bridge to pick-up next week

The Star Tribune reported that work on the I-35W bridge will pick-up significantly over the next week, state transportation officials said Friday.

Some of the activities that will take place over the next week include the assembly of a 250-ton lifting capacity crane. The crane will provide support for drilling efforts in the bridge building process.

In the coming weeks, steel I-beems will be put into place to support the bridge. As many as 10 a day will be put into place, over a 100 total will be pounded into the ground.

The construction will be noticeable, more so audibly than visibly. Because of the loud noise that will come from the area the work is limited to taking place between 7 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.

The Star Tribune reported that according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation the process "involves steel-on-steel impact and generates a significant amount of noise."

In a matter of time, another shift will most likely be added to the contruction process taking place from 6 p.m.-4:30 a.m.

During this time workers will use a special kind of lighting called "balloon" lights that shine downward, and reduce the light disruption to nearby residents.

Dump trucks and loaders will be used in the grading of rock on the north side of the river. The noise from these vehicles and machines may be noticeable for those close to the construction.

"MnDOT is urging the public to stay away from the bridge construction area for safety reasons," the Star Tribune reported. "The best place to view construction activity, the agency said, is on the west side of the 10th Avenue Bridge."

November 8, 2007

Virginia man charged in fire linked to pot deal

The Pioneer Press reported that a man has been blamed for a fire that caused over $1 million in damage to two buildings in downtown Virginia stemming from a pot deal that went bad.

A building on Chestnut Street had damages that added up to be about $900,000, Fire Chief Darrell Knapper said. Another building next to it had damages of around $125,000. These totals did not include the value of the property inside the buildings, Knapper said.

The Star Tribune reported that Tyler William Erickson, 20, was charged with buglary, arson and criminal damage to property Wednesday. He is accused of starting the fire that burned the two buildings down.

The criminal complaint indicated that Erickson met a woman downtown for pot the previous day. The woman took his money, but did not deliver the drug.

Erickson went to the woman's house the next day and started her couch on fire, the complaint said. The fire spread throughout the building and to the building next to it.

A 16-year-old boy saw Erickson light the couch on fire. He chased down Erickson, tackled him at a nearby gas station and held him till police were able to arrive on the scene, police said.

A clerk at the BP gas station said that they recognized Erickson as a man that bought lighter fluid the day of the fire, the complaint said.

The fire has displaced 21 people and one tenant suffered minor burns while trying to put out the fire, Knapper said. Many dogs and cats died in the fire.

November 7, 2007

Crime alert issued after gun pulled on university student

The Star Tribune reported that a man pulled a gun on a University of Minnesota student Sunday, which led the campus police to release a crime alert.

The student was approached around 9:45 p.m. at the intersection of Delaware Street and 25th Avenue SE, and was asked for directions. When the student went to explain the directions the man pulled a black handgun on the student, the university police said.

Close to the same time, two pedestrians started walking towards the man and the student. At that time the suspect ran east on Delaware Avenue, police said.

No one was injured during the incident.

After the incident university police issued a crime alert to students and faculty.

The student remembered the man as being black, between 20 and 25 years old. He was wearing baggy clothes, a grey jacket and stood about 5 feet 10 inches tall, police said in the alert.

Another incident, similar to this, took place just days before on Oct. 30. A man confronted a student at the intersection of 4th Street and 19th Avenue SE around 6:30 p.m. and said he had a gun. The gun was not seen, however, and the student reported the incident on Wednesday, police said.

The student described the man as being black, between the ages of 20 and 30. He was wearing a hooded sweatshirt, baggy jeans and stood about 6 feet tall, police said.

"Anybody with information about either case is asked to call 612-624-2677," the Star Tribune reported.

November 4, 2007

Deer hunter shot and dies

The Star Tribune reported that a hunter from Elbow Lake, Minn., was shot on Saturday, the opening day of deer hunting season, and died.

The 60-year-old man was sitting and waiting for other members of his hunting party to drive deer towards him near Elbow Lake when he was shot in the chest , said Grant County Sheriff Dwight Walvatne.

The Worthington Daily Globe reported that the incident was reported around 9:30 a.m. Saturday.

The man died at Lake Region Hospital in Fergus Falls.

" The Grant County Sheriff's Office and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources are investigating," the Star Tribune reported.

The departments will attempt to find the source of the bullet that killed the man, Wlvatne said.

The man's name has yet to be released.

Elbow Lake is located in western Minnesota, miles north of Alexandria.

2 St. Paul boys charged over threats

The Star Tribune reported that two boys were charged over threats that were over overheard by teachers at at a St. Paul middle school and guns that were found in their homes.

The two 12-year-old boys were overheard by teachers making threats about another student in an after-school science program at Washington Technology Magnet Middle School in St. Paul, police and school officials said.

The boys were arrested Wednesday. Police have only released a few details about the incident, as the case is still under investigation.

The boys were heard making threats about a girl at the school. One boy was heard making comments about a specific type and model of weapon, police said. A teacher reported the comments to the administration Wednesday.

"Officers found and confiscated firearms at one of the boys' homes, including the type mentioned in the threat," the Star Tribune reported.

Police do not believe that the boys brought the guns to school.

Police released the boys Friday, but only to the confines of their own homes.

October 28, 2007

A Woodbury man was shot while hunting

The Star Tribune reported that a Woodbury hunter who was shot Thursday was treated and released from a hospital.

WCCO reported that the Woodbury man, 29, was bow hunting at a Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Management Area in West Lakeland township when another hunter, hunting small game, shot him in the head with a 20-gauge shotgun, the Washington County Sheriff's Office said.

The suspect, a 20-year-old Minneapolis man, said that he did not see the Woodbury man when he turned and shot after hearing a noise up in the tree, Washington County Sheriff Bill Hutton told the Star Tribune. He thought the noise was a squirrel.

After the victim was shot he called 911, while the man who shot him rushed to his aid, Hutton said.

The shooting appears to be accidental, but the 20-year-old man has been taken into custody and possibly faces charges of recklessly discharching a firearm, Hutton said.

Both men did not break any other laws because both had vaild hunting licenses, Hutton told the Star Tribune.

October 27, 2007

Man Arrested in St. Paul Bank Robbery

The Star Tribune reported that a 58-year-old man was arrested Wednesday for robbing his second St. Paul bank in three years.

The Pioneer Press reported that James Richard Cook went into the TCF Bank at 444 Cedar St., and ordered a teller to give him money with a knife in hand a little after 9 a.m., police spokesman Tom Walsh said.

Police noticed Cook, who matched the description of the bank robber, a few block away from the bank. After searching him, police found a knife and a bag with $1,740 inside, the Pioneer Press reported.

Cook was arrested and was taken to the Ramsey County Jail.

Cook was arrested for a bank robbery in St. Paul in 2004. That robbery took place at 6 W. 5th St. The Pioneer Press reported that cook was released from federal custody only five days prior to the robbery Wednesday.

October 21, 2007

Body Found in Cedar Lake

The Star Tribune reported that the body of a man was found in a lake in Minneapolis Saturday, Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek said.

The police have not released the name or cause of death of the man that was found in Cedar Lake around 10 a.m. on Saturday.

WCCO reported that a 911 call was placed around 9:45 a.m. when a person passing by the lake noticed a small overturned boat in the lake. When Minneapolis Park Police and sheriff's deputies responded to the scene they found the body of a man nearby.

The Hennepin County Sheriff's Office and Minneapolis Park Police are conducting an investigation. Police do not yet know if the death was an accident or a homicide, Stanek said.

"The Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office is working to identify the body," wrote Star Tribune reporter Heron Marquez.

October 17, 2007

Minnesota Jobless Rate Increases

MPR reported that the Minnesota has lost 6,300 jobs August to September and now rests at an unemployment rate of 4.9 percent, .2 percent higher than the national unemployment rate.

With the loss of 2,800 jobs, construction saw the largest decline.

"The downturn in the housing market is seriously affecting our economy," said Department of Employment and Economic Development Commissioner Dan McElroy. "We have seen job loss in the home lending industry and a significant slowdown in home construction."

The Star Tribune reported that department officials thought that people shouldn't overreact to data from one month. People are looking for jobs, business leaders said.

Minnesotans looking for jobs went from 72.4 percent to 72.8 percent. This is an increase of around 17,600 people, Tuesday's report stated.

It is important to note that monthly numbers come from a one-day survey of employers. This can lead to changes in the data depending on if an amusement park closes or a school opens, said Kyle Uphoff, the department's regional labor market analyst.

October 13, 2007

Major seat belt enforcement to start Oct. 12

The Pioneer Press reported that Minnesota police officers from around the state launched a 10-day safety belt enforcement campaign Friday.

Within the campaign period, officers are expected to actively enforce the safety-belt laws. A safety belt citation is $25, but has the potential to be up to $110 with court and administrative fees attached.

Up to 400 law enforcement agencies from across the state are expected to participate in the "Click it or Ticket" campaign that runs through Oct. 21.

The campaign is driven by the stagering amount of deaths from automobile accidents in which safety belts were not worn. Between 2002 and 2006, more than half (1, 214) of the occupants invloved in a state record 2,344 fatal vehicle accidents were not buckled up. The Savage Pacer reported that the Department of Public Safety estimated that nearly half of those victims would have survived if they were wearing their safety belt.

“It’s time motorists realize that wearing a seat belt is the norm in Minnesota, and for good reason,? said Savage police Sgt. Mike Schlitz. “Buckling up simply gives you a greater chance of surviving a crash.?

October 12, 2007

U of M receives record donations

The Star Tribune reported that the University of Minnesota has received more donations this year than ever before, members of the Board of Regents were told at a meeting Friday.

The 2007 donations, that reached $251 million, easily topped the previous record of $234 million set in 2000 and 2003, officials said.

Gifts recieved by the university were up 39 percent from last year where they collected $181 million.

A large donation from the estate of James Cargill, which owns four student house properties and has an ownership interest in the Dinnaken Housing LLC, was a main reason for the increase in donations. That donation of $27,650,000 was one of the largest the university has ever received, school officials said.

Donations for the future TCF Bank Stadium and Weisman Art Museum also contributed to the record donations in 2007.

"The $251 million includes cash gifts and pledges, bequests and trusts," Star Tribune's Tim Harlow reported.

October 4, 2007

'U' Library Stalker Identified

WCCO reported that police have identified a "person of interest" in the case of a student assulted at a University of Minnesota library.

Matthew Pengra, who was previously charged for felony and gross misdemeanor sexual conduct a year ago at the University Village Apartments, has been identified as a "person of interest" in the recent case at the university library, police said.

The recent incident occurred Monday at Wilson Library. A man followed a girl into the Wilson Library on the University of Minnesota campus's West Bank. He then offered the girl help in finding a book and led her into a stairwell where he assulted her, police said.

The Star Tribune reported that surveillance cameras captured an image of a man that has similar characteristics to that of Pengra. Police are interested in questioning Pengra.

A witness also reported seeing a man that fits Pengra's description running from the library.

"At that time I didn't know what happened. I just knew something happened and he was to blame because he ... ran away," said witness Adam Rowan.

Pengra's trial date for the incident that occurred at the University Village Apartments is set for November.

October 3, 2007

Meth scare at St. Paul middle school

The Star Tribune reported that seven St. Paul middle school students ingested crystal methamphetamine and were taken to hospitals Tuesday.

Seven students from Hazel Park Middle School, located on White Bear Avenue near Maryland Avenue, ingested the methampetamine around 12:15 p.m., during their lunch hour, Principal Coleman McDonough said.

One girl went to the school nurse shortly after ingesting the methamphetamine because she was not feeling well. She confided in the nurse that the group of students found and took the substance, officials said. The group included six girls and one boy.

The Pioneer Press reported that the students were taken to hospitals to recieve medical attention although none of the students had overdosed, police said.

Initial police reports suggest one a 14-year-old girl brought the substance to school, Police spokesman Tom Walsh said. It was not stated where she got the substance, but It was confirmed the substance was methamphetamine.

"It's very uncharacteristic of this student body," McDonough said. "We're not used to these kinds of things."

September 29, 2007

2 Teens Arrested in Shooting of Delivery Driver

The Star Tribune reported that two teens were arrested Friday in relation to the shooting of a delivery truck driver Thursday in north Minneapolis.

The boys, 15 and 17, were arrested over the last two days. The 15-year-old boy was arrested in his home late Thursday night, while the 17-year-old boy was arrested at school Friday morning.

The 17-year-old boy has been arrested on 10 previous occassions, including two arrests for possession of a gun, police said.

Both boys are looking at up to 30 years in prison if convicted, said Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan.

The arrests bring to light a recent increase in juvenile crimes. WCCO reported that there has been eight juvenile arrests in the last week and a half.

"We have to look at what's going on in the community and ask parents and guardians to help keep guns out of the hands of kids," said Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan.

The DHL driver was heading to make a delivery around 2 p.m. on Thursday when he was shot in his van.

He drove to a nearby harware store where employees called 911. He was rushed to the North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale.

The driver is expected to live.

September 24, 2007

Mayor Announced Public Safety A First Priority

The Star Tribune reported Monday that Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak's 2008 budget listed the addition of 18 police officers and much more to ensure public safety.

Rybak plans to spend more money on reducing gang graffiti, curfew volations, and youth violence. He also plans to try to give money to community programs to help them afford buses to transport inner-city kids.

He wants to spend $100,000 on a City Hall-based curfew center and prevention programs. Also he wantes to spend an additional $150,000 to implement community based programs to combat gang graffiti.

The mayor plans to increase public safety spending from $192 million to $200 million. which will cover policing, firefighting, emergency functions and other safety programs. The police department is expected to hire 18 new officers with the increased budget. This will strengthen the force to 882 officers from its previous 864.

KARE 11 reported Rybak said crime continues to be a significant challenge to public safety.

"Making Minneapolis a safe place to call home, growing an economy that works for everyone and investing in basic infrastructure," were the three core ideas Rybak plans to address with the new 2008 budget.

September 19, 2007

Some Students on Fasting Strike at the U

The Minnesota Daily reported that a student hunger strike began Monday in support of AFSCME employees on the University of Minnesota campus.

The students began the strike in front of Morrill Hall, and moved to the Washington Avenue bridge in part to avoid the rain on Monday.

They are living solely off of water and juice in effort to test the "morals of the administration," strikers told the Minnesota Daily. The student strikers hope to persuade the administration to settle with AFSCME.

The strike doesn't come without risks. The lack of eating can lead to heart trouble or the deterioration of muscle said University nutritionist Christine Twait.

The Star Tribune reported that University spokesman Dan Wolter said it is, "unfortunate when people choose to use their personal health to make a point in a labor dispute."

Students such as Sofi Shank, 19, see this as a last resort option to back AFSCME.

The hunger strike stems from the initial strike of union workers at the university over raises. The university offered annual contract raises of 2.5 percent, which caused the workers to strike. Workers say if they were offered 3.5 percent, they strike would likely end.

September 18, 2007

Par Ridder Forced to Step Down

Minnesota Public Radio reported that a Ramsey County judge ordered Star Tribune publisher Par Ridder to step down Tuesday in relation to the file he took from the Pioneer Press.

Judge David C. Higgs ruled that Ridder was in violation of the state's Uniform Trade Secrets Act. "There is no question that Ridder knew, or at least should have known that the Pioneer Press information he took, used, and distributed was confidential," said Higgs.

The ruling stems from the controversy that began back in March when Ridder left the Pioneer Press for the Star Tribune, taking along with him his laptop filled with highly valuable information pertaining to his previous paper's adverstising rates and budgets.

The Star Tribune reported that Judge Higgs cleard Ridder, along with another executive he hired away from the Pioneer Press, of charges relating to violation of a noncompete clause in their contracts. The agreements were not valid Higgs said.

Ridder is banned from his office at the Star Tribune for the duration of one year. He left the building at around 8:40 a.m. on Tuesday, according to Star Tribune spokesman Ben Taylor.

Chris Harte, chairman of the Star Tribune, replaced Ridder as publisher.

The Star Tribune reported that Editor Nancy Barnes sent out a staff e-mail commending the staff for their work during the whole process.

"It's hard to imagine a more tumultuous year, even without today's ruling," Barnes said. "One thing's for sure: It's more important than ever that we cover the news, even when it's about ourselves, and put out a great paper."

September 16, 2007

Fugitive Surrenders in St. Paul

The Star Tribune reported an escaped convict was back in custody Saturday.

Jun William Vang, 27, who had walked away from the Lino Lakes state prison on Sept. 8, turned himself in to authorities in an undisclosed location in St. Paul, officials said.

Vang was serving a 13-year sentence for second-degree attempted murder for the benefit of a gang. He only had five months left on his sentence when he escaped.

The Pioneer Press reported that officers sought out Vang's friends and family members before they were able to make contact with him. It was then he agreed to turn himself in.

The public wasn't notified of his escape because of he was thought to be only a minimum security risk, prison officials said. They didn't want to scare him out of the state.

Vang's parole, which was scheduled in February, is likely to be affected by the recent events , said a corrections officer.

Death of Cyclist leads to Homicide Investigation

The Star Tribune reports that a homicide investigation continued Saturday into the death of a cyclist.

Mark Loesch, 41, of south Minneapolis was found Thursday morning at 3732 Elliot Ave. S. -- less than a mile and a half from his home -- brutally beaten. He died from "multiple blunt force head impacts," said the Hennepin County Medical Examiner.

The Pioneer Press reported that Loesch, an avid cyclist, was seen last around 11:30 p.m. Wednesday leaving his home on his bike.

Police are looking into different leads, but no one has been arrest thus far.

Loesch is the 35th homocide victim in Minneapolis this year.