Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.


St. Paul police chief outlines plan to deal with increased gun violence

Plus: Court of Appeals hears teacher tenure lawsuit; St. Paul Ballet wants its missing dance floor back; commuter chaos in downtown Minneapolis; and more.

St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell
MinnPost photo by Peter Callaghan

Mara Gottfried of the Pioneer Press says, “Two cases that St. Paul officers encountered on Tuesday represent the kind of danger police face every day, but that rarely gets widespread attention, the city’s police chief told the City Council. They resulted in two guns taken off the streets and people under arrest, and came as officers are increasingly spending time responding to gun violence. … A week after Axtell addressed the council about his first year as chief, which has included skyrocketing reports of shots fired in the city, council member Dan Bostrom asked him to come back to the council and provide more details.”

Also from Gottfried: “A 34-year-old man broke into a St. Paul police station, stole a police radio and used it to taunt a dispatcher, according to a criminal complaint filed this week. … [Jason] Phyle used the radio to speak to police dispatch. … Phyle told dispatch that he was inside Target and was wearing red and tan, the complaint said. Officers saw Phyle leaving the store with the radio and arrested him at 3:16 p.m. ‘Police noted Phyle seemed very paranoid and exhibited other indications he was high on an illegal substance,’ the complaint said. Phyle told police he snorted methamphetamine a day earlier, before he picked up his minor son.” 

The Forum News Service has moredetails on that YouTube stunt-gone-wrong: “Details of the shooting were contained in a complaint filed in Norman County District Court Wednesday against the victim’s girlfriend, 19-year-old Monalisa Perez of Halstad. She was charged with second-degree manslaughter after telling authorities on Monday evening that she and her boyfriend, 22-year-old Pedro Ruiz III, were making a YouTube video when she shot him in the chest. The incident took place in Halstad, about 35 miles north of Moorhead in western Minnesota along the Red River.”

Way to go St. Paul. MPR’s Danielle Wong says: “St. Paul’s fire department said Wednesday the city has earned the highest fire protection rating in the state, and that may mean lower insurance costs for homes and businesses. Previously, Insurance Services Office, Inc. averaged fire losses over the previous five years to arrive at a rating. This time, the ISO performed a comprehensive evaluation of the city’s fire protection capabilities, which the department said included firefighting, water supplies, dispatching and community risk reduction. With the evaluation, the department says St. Paul is the first city in Minnesota to achieve a Class 2 rating.”

Article continues after advertisement

Old law suits never die. Stribber Beena Raghavendran says, “The job security shielding veteran teachers makes it difficult to kick out the lousy ones, a group of parents from around Minnesota argues. Those parents are fighting to have their lawsuit against the state heard after a lower court threw it out last fall. The Minnesota Court of Appeals on Wednesday heard oral arguments in a high-stakes teacher tenure lawsuit, the third of its kind nationally.”

Further proof that somebody will steal anything. Says Euan Kerr at MPR, “The St. Paul Ballet wants people to be on the lookout for a missing dance floor it believes was stolen. The floor was stored in a customized trailer locked behind the company’s studios in the Hamline-Midway area of St. Paul when it was taken sometime Saturday night. Whoever took the floor probably doesn’t know what they have, said Zoe Henrot, the ballet’s artistic director. Dancers used it for 25 shows last year in venues such as the Landmark Center and the Mall of America.”

If you’re even thinking of trying it, don’t. Say Tim Harlow and Rochelle Olson of the Strib, “Wednesday’s commute into downtown Minneapolis was even worse than many had feared. Express buses took hours to arrive and downtown streets were parking lots well into the day. … Carpool passengers got out around the last 30 car-lengths of the Fourth Street entrance ramp to walk to work, Zieska said. And bus drivers were letting people off after they crossed Second Avenue … . Road and light-rail work downtown appeared to be the culprit Wednesday, along with morning rain that likely compounded an already tricky downtown grid bogged down with lane closures on seemingly every street.”

Vice news does a piece on vaccines and the Somali community. Says Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani, “The misinformation tidal wave about autism started in 2008, when worried Somali parents in the state reported seeing kids diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder at alarming rates. These concerns made their way to Amy Hewitt, a senior research associate at the University of Minnesota’s Institute of Community Integration, who in 2013 conducted the largest-scale study ever looking into the number of Somali children with autism in any U.S. community. The results of her study were interpreted as evidence that Somalis are more likely than other kids to have autism — something Somali parents had long feared. The thing is, that wasn’t entirely true. ‘The findings of the study got misrepresented in headlines and news bites,’ Hewitt told VICE News via phone.”