MINNESOTA NEWS ROUND-UP: Minnesota Somali community denounces al-Shabaab, Kenyan violence
MINNEAPOLIS - Minnesota Somali community leaders are condemning the terrorist attack on a Kenyan shopping mall, and say such violence has no place in Islam.
At a press conference yesterday at a Minneapolis mosque imams and others called on Muslim young people to reject extremist groups like al-Shabab, the Somali terrorist organization that has announced responsibility for the siege at Westgate Mall in Nairobi. They did not address concerns, though, that Somali-Americans from the Twin Cities may be involved in the attack, saying they have no information about that possibility. Minnesota has the largest Somali community in the United States. While some large media outlets have reported that a 22-year-old from St. Paul and a 24-year-old Minneapolis man were among the gunmen who have killed countless people -- with the confirmed death toll at more than 60 and dozens more unaccounted for - al Shabab in Somalia is rejecting the idea that anyone from outside Somalia's borders was involved. Kenyan Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed told PBS Newshour yesterday that "two or three Americans" and a British woman were among the militants, and described them as between 18 and 19, of Somali or Arab origin and from "Minnesota and one other place". al-Shabaab's media office told Reuters that "Those who describe the attackers as Americans and British are people who do not know what is going on in Westgate building,". U.S. security sources say they are looking into information from Kenya that residents of the United States may have been among the militants.
St. Cloud Police say a man fell to his death while cleaning windows downtown. Investigators say he fell about 70 feet from the side of the Kelly Inn. They have not released what, exactly, led to the fall but believe it was an accident.
A man from rural Renville is the victim of a weekend farm accident. The Sheriff's Department says they received a 911 call Sunday afternoon and found 58-year-old Jeffrey Muetzel underneath the corn head of a combine. Officials say they believe Muetzel was making repairs when the head fell from the combine, killing him.
On the third day of testimony of Jeffery Trevino's murder trial in the death of his wife, the co-worker Kira Steger was apparently engaged in an affair with took the stand. Ryan Wendt testified that Steger sent him a text message just before midnight on February 21, he replied shortly after and never heard from her again. Wendt says he and Steger started out as friends but then began a casual affair in January. He was the district manager for clothing retailer Delia's; Steger was a manager at the store in Mall of America. The jury was also introduced to surveillance video from the night prosecutors believe Trevino's wife was killed, taken by a camera at a neighbor's home, and a taxi driver that picked up a fare that night at Mall of America. Steger's car was found abandoned there. Trevino faces two counts of second-degree murder in Steger's death. She was last seen alive in February and her body was recovered in May from the Mississippi River. Prosecutors contend that Trevino killed Steger because of the affair and her desire to end the marriage.
A judge in a New Jersey lawsuit has ordered Vikings owners Zygi Wilf and Mark Wilf, plus cousin Leonard Wilf, to pay over 84 million dollars for defrauding business partners in a real estate deal during the 1980s. The Wilfs attorney, Shep Guryan, calls the award "unwarranted and unjustified" and says they will appeal. Co-counsel Peter Harvey adds "nothing that the judge decided will in any way impact the stadium construction undertaken by the Wilfs in partnership with the National Football League" Vikings VP Lester Bagley says a financial review by the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority determined the Vikings and the Wilf family have the financial ability to meet their commitment to the stadium project, regardless of the outcome of this legal matter.
An 18-year-old man from Burnsville has been sentenced to 60 days in the Juvenile Service Center and 100 hours community service for an August 2012 crash during a hundred-mile-an-hour joyride that killed two teen passengers and injured two others. The vehicle driven by Joshua Decoteau, who was 17 at the time, went airborne along an interstate frontage road in Burnsville and two passengers were ejected. Decoteau pleaded guilty earlier this month to criminal vehicular homicide. Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom said they're pleased the driver accepted responsibility for his dangerous behavior.
A legislative oversight committee this morning is taking a look at a data breach that Republicans warn could threaten security of personal information for those buying health insurance through the new MNsure exchange. A MNsure employee sent an e-mail with names and Social Security numbers of 1,600 insurance brokers, but MNsure spokeswoman Jenni Bowring-McDonough says it was an isolated incident, "not at all connected to what Minnesotans will experience when they are working with MNsure to secure health insurance." Republican State Representative Peggy Scott from Andover responds she's not convinced. Scott says MNsure should never have been collecting Social Security numbers of insurance brokers and has already overreached beyond what state law allowed them to do.
People attending the Frac Sands Conference in downtown Minneapolis tonight will be met by protesters. Rally organizer Joe Kruse says they're calling for a statewide moratorium on frac-sand mining. He says it has a negative effect on the ecosystem and groundwater in southeastern Minnesota -- and it tears apart small towns. He ways one person will sell their land and the neighbor next door is left with a mine and lower property value. Kruse says more economic and environmental impact studies need to be done in Minnesota. Industry officials predict a future boom in frac-sand mining as more power plants switch from coal to natural gas.
The Minnesota Public Interest Research Group is at UMD, U-of-M Twin Cities and several private colleges today (Tues), encouraging students to register on this National Voter Registration Day. M-PIRG's Sarah Casper says there was "huge" youth voter turnout in 2012 against the marriage and voter photo-ID amendments and they're trying to keep the momentum going in a municipal election year. Eligible voters are allowed to register at their polling place in Minnesota on Election Day, but officials say voters can save time by pre-registering now through October 15th.
The 114th Transportation Unit of the Minnesota Army National Guard, based in Duluth, is heading back to Afghanistan for the second time in three years. Known as the Wolfpack, the unit is responsible for hauling supplies that include ammunition for mobile combat units. About 150 members expected to deploy. 187 soldiers from the 114th were sent to Afghanistan in April of 2009 and returned in June 2010. A sendoff ceremony will take place at 1 p.m. Oct. 12 in the Chisholm High School auditorium
A Coast Guardsman assigned to the Cutter Alder in Duluth has been convicted of sexual assault and other charges in a general court-martial in Virginia. Coast Guard officials say Petty Officer 3rd Class Mathew Rogers was found guilty of sexually assaulting a civilian woman at a hotel in Portsmouth in August 2012. His sentence will be announced later. Rogers was attending training in Virginia when the sexual assault occurred.
A Duluth man already representing himself in court is planning to take the stand in his own defense today. 42-year-old Joshua Littlewolf is charged with second-degree murder in the death of 28-year-old Joshua Olson, who was found stabbed to death in a Duluth apartment in April 2012. Littlewolf has claimed that someone else killed Olson, and that witnesses are confusing him with the man who rented the apartment where Olson died, Nakota Benjamin. Prosecutors say Littlewolf admitted to the stabbing during a police interrogation. Testimony is expected to wrap up today, closing arguments will likely be made tomorrow (Wed) morning, and the jury should start deliberating later in the day.
An Austin man with a long criminal past is behind bars again, accused of stalking a teenage girl. Investigators say 67-year-old Loren Bellrichard started sending letters to the girl in April and was warned not to have any contact with the 16-year-old. But police say he left the girl a bicycle, a softball glove and a bat last week and has been charged with three counts of felony stalking. Bellrichard has served time in prison previously after he was found guilty of sending threatening letters to local officials and residents. He was acquitted of bombing the home of an Austin judge.
A Mayo Clinic doctor will be operating on royalty today. Spain's king is to undergo a hip operation on a suspected infection that is hampering his ability to walk. Royal palace officials say Doctor Miguel Cabanela flew from Rochester to a hospital in Madrid to lead the operation. It will be the 75-year-old's third hip operation in less than two years. King Juan Carlos I broke his right hip while on an elephant hunting safari in southern Africa in April 2012. He then had joint reconstruction surgery on his left hip in November.