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MINNESOTA NEWS BRIEFS: Bemidji man dies in police stand-off

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BEMIDJI, Minn.  -- A man is dead after a four-hour standoff with SWAT officers at a home near Bemidji Wednesday evening.

Officers were called to a home to check on a distraught man threatening to kill himself, and say 34-year-old Miquell Deppa was armed with a rifle and also threatening to kill responding officers. When Deppa came out of the home Bureau of Criminal Apprehension agents say he pointed the gun at police and a SWAT sniper shot him. Deppa was pronounced dead at a hospital in Fargo.

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A longtime Austin pastor facing accusations that he abused his power of attorney over an elderly woman with dementia is calling the charges bogus. Austin Church of Christ Pastor David DeFor faces four felony charges after police say he became the 82-year-old victim's power of attorney in July of 2010, and received about $11,000 dollars for trips and other personal spending, while his church received more than $15,000. The woman also changed her will in 2001 to include Defor and his church, even after the woman's caregivers say she wanted to attend a different church. DeFor told investigators that the donations were gifts, and he is "100 percent innocent."

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A Rochester man is expected to be charged with child endangerment, after he left his 8-month-old baby in a car for more than a half hour while he shopped at Menards -- and police say it's not the first time. Police were called by another shopper after the baby was left crying in the parked car. Officers say the car was unlocked, and the windows were just cracked open. The father didn't leave the store until a half-hour after the 9-1-1 call, but told investigators he left the baby behind because it had been sleeping and he didn't plan to be in the store for long. The baby was turned over to the mother, who police say was upset by the incident. The county attorney is reviewing the police report for possible charges. Police say they were called to a grocery store last November, after the same man left his child in a vehicle while he went in to shop.

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A judge has revoked 35-year-old Christopher Bjerkness' probation and sent him to prison for nearly two years, after he was asked to leave a group program because he was caught watching pornography at a residential treatment home where he'd been living. Bjerkness was convicted of breaking into a fitness center in 2011 and slashing exercise balls with a knife. He was convicted of the same crime in 2005 and again in 2009. 

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A woman pulled out of a swamp after a car accident near Vining last Saturday has died from her injuries. Police say 26-year-old Tiffany Froslee of Henning left Co Hwy 40, struck an approach and landed upside down in a marshy area. She was not wearing a seat belt.

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Police came to the rescue of a lost man near Staples yesterday morning, and ended up taking him to jail. The man called 911, saying he was lost and had run out of gas. Deputies found the 22-year-old Rochert man on Co Hwy 23 near Pelican Lake, and arrested him for DWI.

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A Stillwater man is facing a felony animal cruelty charge, after police say George Nichols tried to cut off a dog's head with a machete. The 11-pound dog survived the initial attack, but eventually had to be euthanized. Nichols is charged with one felony count of animal torture and one of animal cruelty, and if convicted could spend three years in prison. Investigators say Nichols and his fiancee argued about the dog, and he left home with the animal and later texted his now-ex to say it was dead. The pet was found clinging to life under a Port Potty at a nearby park. When he was arrested, Nichols apparently told officers that the dog was his property and he could do whatever he wanted with it. An order of protection also bars Nichols from the area near his ex-fiancee's home.  

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A first court appearance Thursday for a former employee of the Duluth Salvation Army accused of sexually assaulting a juvenile male between the age of 10 and 12. 47-year-old Peter Jay Olson, who was also a Little League and basketball coach, faces two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct plus production and possession of child pornography. Investigators say child pornography was found by a private forensic firm on a computer used by employees of the Salvation Army in Duluth. They say further investigation revealed Olson had sexually assaulted a minor. A spokeswoman for the Salvation Army calls the news "truly heartbreaking" and says their concern and prayers are for the child and his family. Annette Bauer says after a report from a parent, the Salvation Army immediately launched an internal investigation, suspended Olson the same day and, after finding inappropriate materials on computer disks, immediately notified the U.S. Attorney's Office and terminated Olson.

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A Moorhead man convicted as a teenager in a high-profile drive-by shooting is in trouble with the law again. Jan Hough is in jail after pleading guilty to a domestic assault from April and a second charge was filed Tuesday. In 1996, Howg fired seven rounds into the home where the Barnesville High School principal, his wife and four children were sleeping. No one was hurt. Hough served about eight years in prison for that shooting. He's currently a graduate student at MSU-Moorhead. Prosecutors say Hough's girlfriend was the victim in the recent domestic assault charges.

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U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (DFL-Plymouth) and Al Franken (DFL-Minneapolis) are applauding bi-partisan passage of an immigration reform bill. On the Senate floor Thursday, Franken highlighted a provision that opens the "guest worker" program to dairy farmers -- saying the current program is only open to seasonal workers and "unfortunately in Minnesota you can't milk cows seasonally." But Franken's colleagues in the U.S. House are less enthusiastic about the immigration bill. Democrat Keith Ellison (DFL-Minneapolis) says it has loopholes for national security or border security that allow discrimination based on any factor, including race. Republican Michele Bachmann says the Senate's "fake border security bill only ensures that we'll throw away billions of dollars at the border without any proof it will ever be secured."

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State Senator Jeremy Miller of Winona says it appears flood damage in Houston and Fillmore Counties will meet the threshold for federal assistance from FEMA. Miller says preliminary estimates did not indicate the area would be eligible, but after seeing numbers from Houston and Fillmore counties, he says damage will be "very close" to the seven-point-two million-dollar FEMA threshold -- a number that's for the entire state. The damage estimate in Houston County alone is around six-million dollars. Miller says he's been in contact with the Minnesota Homeland Security and Emergency Management Office and the Departments of Agriculture and Transportation to see if any state funds are available.

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The U.S. Supreme Court ruling negating part of the Defense of Marriage Act could not have come at a better time for one Twin Cities organization. Twin Cities PRIDE executive director Dot Belstler says it will likely draw even more people to Minneapolis' Loring Park this weekend. She says there's a lot to celebrate and they expect huge crowds. A ticketed beer tasting and food truck event kicks off the weekend tonight (Fri). The festival is Saturday and Sunday, with live music both days, fireworks Saturday night, and the Pride Parade on Sunday. 

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A serious injury crash on Interstate 94 in Rogers just northwest of the Twin Cities has prompted officials to close down portions of the freeway yesterday. The State Patrol says two vehicles were involved in the crash near Brockton Lane South, and at least five are injured. All westbound lanes were shut down and an additional two lanes on the eastbound side were closed for emergency response vehicles. Traffic was being diverted all the way back to Interstate 494. Backups are stretching for miles in both directions.

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A Minneapolis father was sentenced today after his four-year-old son accidentally shot and killed his younger brother when he found a loaded gun under a pillow. 31-year-old Kao Xiong (COW ZHONG) will serve 10 years probation, 100 hours community service and 100 hours in the Sentencing to Service program. Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman says Xiong had seven guns in his two-bedroom condo and if he had "cared for his guns and kept them the way any responsible gun owner does, the little child would be here today." Xiong was convicted of manslaughter and child endangerment. Freeman calls it a tragedy that was 100-percent preventable.

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A New Ulm man is dead after a car-motorcycle collision last night on Highway 15 just outside of town. The State Patrol says 53-year-old Kurt Winkler was thrown from his cycle when he rear-ended a southbound car. Winkler was taken to the New Ulm Medical Center where he was pronounced dead. Troopers say Winkler was not wearing a helmet. No one else was hurt.

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Police were called to the Wells Fargo building in Duluth yesterday afternoon, after about 20 people became stuck on an escalator. Four children with a daycare group and one adult were taken to the hospital, after a pileup at the bottom of the moving stairs. Most of the injured had just cuts and scrapes, but officials say one of the children suffered a serious ankle injury.

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A boy lying on the ground was struck by a car Wednesday afternoon at Sylvia Lake County Park in Melrose Township. Stearns County Sheriff's officials say 17-year-old Trent Tschida of Melrose was lying by the lake, when a vehicle driven by 35-year-old Santiago Cantu of Melrose drove over him. Tschida was struck in the head and shoulder area and suffered non-life-threatening injuries. He was taken to a local hospital by a private party.

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Two Hutchinson teens were hurt late Wednesday night when their car hit a horse on Highway 22 near Glencoe. Seventeen-year-old Marissa Owen was driving northbound and struck the horse as it came out of the ditch. She and her passenger were taken to Glencoe Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Owen's car was totalled. There's no word on the horse's condition.

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A Minnesota lawmaker is urging Congress to prevent the interest rate increase on student loans set to take effect in just a matter of days. U,S, Senator Al Franken (DFL-Minneapolis) co-sponsored the Student Loan Affordability Act, which received majority support but did not pass in the Senate earlier this month. It would have locked in the current lower interest rate on new subsidized Stafford loans for two years. He also was a co-sponsor of the Bank on Students Loan Fairness Act, which would allow students to pay the same interest rate on their student loans that banks pay on the money they borrow from the Federal Reserve, currently point-seven-five percent.

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As storm cleanup continues throughout the state, officials are warning residents to beware of shady contractors. Dan Hendrickson with the Minnesota Better Business Bureau says it? important to make sure you know who you?e dealing with and get everything in writing when working with a contractor. He also advises doing your research ahead of time by going to bbb.org.  

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Sean Scallon
Sean Scallon has been a reporter and Sports Editor at the Pierce County Herald newspaper in Ellsworth since 1998. He holds a bachelors degree in communication arts from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He's also worked at newspapers in Glenwood City, Wisconsin; Marion, Illinois and Shawano, Wisconsin. Sean also works as a sports reporter for other newspapers and websites in RiverTown Multimedia from River Falls to Hudson to New Richmond and Red Wing.
(715) 273-4334
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