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News Briefs: Willmar officers injured during arrest

Editor's note: The following is a collection of news briefs from Forum Communication Company newspapers in Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin.


WilImar officers injured during arrest

WILLMAR, Minn. – Three Willmar police officers were treated for injuries suffered while arresting a 23-year-old man Thursday.

A news release from police Capt. Jim Felt said officers went to a Willmar residence about 2:40 p.m. seeking a man wanted in Yellow Medicine County for a court order violation.

Police say the suspect, Cody Lee Friese, of Willmar, attacked and assaulted the officers, who called for backup.

Felt said officers subdued Friese through the use of TASERs. However, as he was being removed from the residence, Friese attempted to assault two additional officers.

Friese did not use weapons used, according to the report.

Sgt. Mike Markkanen was hit in the back of the head and was taken by ambulance to Rice Memorial Hospital. Officer Sam Neubauer sustained a cut. Both were treated and discharged.

Police said Friese headbutted Officer Tony LaPatka, but LaPatka did not require medical treatment.

Friese received minor injuries that did not require medical treatment. He is being held in the Kandiyohi County jail.

Potential charges include fourth-degree assault on a police officer, which is a felony.

Transportation to VA hospitals available for veterans

ST. PAUL -- The Disabled American Veterans of Minnesota is providing northwest Minnesota veterans free transportation to and from Veterans Affairs medical centers in St. Cloud and Fargo.

The group is operating three Ford Flex seven-passenger vans for any veteran in need of transport.

One departs from Bemidji to Fargo, and another departs from Park Rapids to Fargo. A third van runs from Wheaton to Fargo and St. Cloud.

Each route has designated stops along the way.

The program began in mid-November and since has transported more than 30 veterans and driven more than 3,000 miles.

The vans were bought with donations from the Disabled American Veterans of Minnesota Foundation, the National DAV Columbia Trust Foundation, the Minnesota Veterans 4 Veterans Trust Fund, several local DAV chapters and local businesses.

To learn more about the project or schedule a ride, call (855) 277-9787.

Red Wing Shoe recalls thousands of work boots

RED WING, Minn. -- Red Wing Shoe Co. is recalling thousands of work boots in the United States and Canada after a problem was found with the steel toecap.

The cap in the boots “could fail to protect the wearer’s feet in an impact,” according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. No injuries have been reported.

The recall affects about 105,000 pairs in the U.S. and 9,000 in Canada.

All boots that are part of the recall were made in the United States, and most came from Red Wing, company spokesman Peter Engel said.

The issue was due to a defective part from a supplier in Europe, Engel added.

The recall involves more than 40 styles of men’s steel toe work boots in sizes 11 to 18 and widths ranging from B to H. The boots have 6-, 8-, 10- or 11-inch ankle height and are black, brown or maroon leather.

People should return affected boots to the place of purchase or contact Red Wing Shoe. They will get a free replacement pair.

For more information, visit and click on Safety Notice or contact Red Wing Shoes at (800) 733-9464 or

Coalition seeks more time to review PolyMet study

DULUTH -- Environmental and civic groups called Friday for an extended public comment period on the revised environmental review for the proposed PolyMet copper mine project.

It took more than three years to put together the 2,169-page environmental impact statement for the project near Hoyt Lakes. The groups say it’s too big to decipher in 90 days.

They are asking that state and federal regulatory agencies double the public comment time to 180 days. Currently the public comment period ends March 13. The request would extend that to June 13. The groups also asked for a fourth public hearing, in May. Three public meetings are planned, all in January.

The request was made by the Minnesota Environmental Partnership and a coalition of 27 environmental, civic and commercial organizations. They sent letters to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Forest Service’s Superior National Forest.

The groups also claim that much of the document is not worded to be understandable to the average citizen, as demanded by past legal decisions.

Attorney seeks to suppress statement in Willmar murder case

WILLMAR, Minn. -- The attorney for a teen charged in his grandmother’s killing wants a portion of the teen’s statements to law enforcement officers disallowed in his trial.

Attorney Daniel Mohs argued Friday that the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension agents who questioned Robert Warwick after the homicide of Lila Warwick on July 29 did not advise him of his Miranda rights after they had informed him that he was under arrest and would face murder charges.

Friday’s hearing was before District Judge David Mennis, who will issue a ruling on the evidence after attorneys have filed briefs with the court.

Warwick, 18, and Brok Junkermeier, 19, of Willmar, have been indicted on first-degree murder charges in the death of Lila Warwick, 79, at her Willmar residence. Both face the possibility of life in prison and are held in the Kandiyohi County Jail on $2 million bail.

Junkermeier’s trial is scheduled for March.

Robert Warwick is accused of being the mastermind of the crime, allegedly motivated by a large amount of money he suspected his grandmother had. Junkermeier is alleged to have stabbed and strangled her after making her write him a check from her bank account.

Bemidji man uninjured as truck goes into lake

BEMIDJI, Minn. -- A Bemidji man avoided injury Friday after his vehicle went into Lake Irving while trying to plow snow off the lake surface to make thicker ice, police said.  

At about 1 p.m., police saw a GMC pickup truck with a plow attachment that had fallen through the ice. The truck’s owner, James George, 63, Bemidji, was not injured.

Police said George usually plows portions of the lake to prevent ice insulation and make a thicker, safer surface. Tow trucks were working Friday afternoon to dislodge the truck from the ice and slush.

Friday’s incident comes just more than a week after a 55-year-old man accidentally plunged an SUV through Lake Bemidji ice Dec. 12. He also was uninjured.

That incident, as well as reports of vehicles breaking through ice in other counties, prompted the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to warn that ice remains too thin.

Last winter, six people died from breaking through ice with snowmobiles or vehicles, the DNR reported.

Redwood Falls mayor dies; Revier ran for Congress in 1990s

REDWOOD FALLS, Minn. -- Redwood Falls Mayor Gary Revier died unexpectedly Friday morning in his home.

KLGR Radio in Redwood Falls reported the death.

Revier had turned 67 Wednesday. He was a graduate of Redwood Falls High School and a well-known local businessman. He had been involved in city government since being elected to the Redwood Falls City Council at age 23, according to the city website.

He was elected mayor three times, and had served as a school board member, a chamber of commerce director and president, a bank director and a public utilities commissioner, the website said.

He ran for U.S. Congress in 1994 and 1996 as a Republican against former U.S. Rep. David Minge, D-Minn. He was defeated in both elections.

Revere was also known as a local historian. He frequently posted historical photos on Facebook, where he had more than 1,000 followers.

According to posts on his Facebook timeline, Dakota 38 riders stopped in Redwood Falls Friday morning to honor Revier, who had been a supporter. The Native American riders were traveling through on their annual horseback trip to Mankato in memory of the 38 Dakota men hanged there Dec. 26, 1862, in the aftermath of the U.S.-Dakota War in 1862.

One killed, one hurt in central Minnesota crash

ROYALTON, Minn. -- A Nisswa man was killed and a Duluth man injured in a two-vehicle crash Friday morning in central Minnesota.

The Minnesota State Patrol reported that Lucas A. Johnson, 23, of Nisswa, died from injuries suffered in the crash on U.S. Highway 10 in Royalton, about 20 miles north of St. Cloud. Cody Husemoller, 20, of Duluth, suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

According to the patrol, Husemoller was driving a 2000 Chevrolet Impala south in the left lane just before 11 a.m. when he swerved to avoid stopped traffic and slid into the northbound lanes. The Impala was broadsided on the passenger side by a northbound Ford cutaway van.

The driver of the van, a 36-year-old Sartell, Minn., man, was not injured.

The roadway was wet at the time of the crash, the patrol said. Neither driver had alcohol in his system; Johnson was wearing a seat belt.


Former day care worker charged with molesting children

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- A Manvel man was arrested Friday and faces four felony charges of sexually molesting children at a church day care center in Grand Forks.

Timothy Tollefson, 29, remains in the Grand Forks County jail pending his initial appearance, probably Monday, on the four Class A felony charges of gross sexual imposition with a child under 15. Each count carries a top sentence of 20 years on prison if he is convicted.

According to Grand Forks Police Detective Steve Conley, Tollefson admitted to rubbing the bare behinds of four girls, ages 3 to 4, while helping them sleep at nap time in a darkened room at Immanuel Christian Children’s Center, attached to Immanuel Lutheran Church.

Tollefson began working there as a substitute teacher in 2009 and said about August 2012 he began touching girls there during nap time, using blankets to conceal his activity from other employees, according to Conley’s affidavit of probable cause.

He was fired by the day care center in November.

N.D.’s Christmas tree made in Wisconsin

BISMARCK – North Dakota’s mammoth state Christmas tree aglow in the Capitol comes not from the plains of North Dakota but from a bog in Wisconsin.

Rather than cutting down a local spruce or pine, which Facilities Management spokeswoman Ronda Berg said dry out too fast in the low humidity, the state gets a balsam fir special from central Wisconsin. It was ordered through Bismarck-based Cashman Nursery, which has been providing the state tree for decades.

The tree cost about $700, according to The Associated Press.

Cashman Nursery owner Dan Cashman said he’s experimented over the years with local trees for the Capitol’s Memorial Hall – a spruce here, a pine there.

“Both lost every needle that they’ve got,” Cashman said. “And I don’t mean some of them.”

Cashman said he orders balsam firs from a bog in Wisconsin, where the hearty trees grow best. It took a crew of 12 to bring the 25-foot tree up the Capitol steps, he said.

“That’s why (the state) gets a tree from me,” he said. “They’re the best I know of.”


Police: Boy accused in killing also fired on responding officers

ASHLAND, Wis. -- A 14-year-old boy turned on the couple who were raising him, fatally shooting and stabbing a male relative and also attacking a female relative, who was able to escape and call police for help, officials said Friday.

The teen later traded gunshots with police and shot himself. Ashland police are recommending that the youth be charged with first-degree intentional homicide in the slaying of William J. Saari, 52, who was found dead near his Ashland home Monday night, and attempted first-degree intentional homicide of Saari’s wife, Carolyn Saari.

Ashland Police Chief Greg BeBeau said Saari was apparently killed from a combination of several gunshot and stab wounds.

Police also said there was a brief exchange of gunfire between the suspect and the first officer on scene. The officers involved have been placed on paid administrative leave, which is standard such cases.

The boy, who had an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, was taken to a Duluth hospital, where he was treated and released. He was being held in a juvenile detention facility on $250,000 bond.

Police said the boy was a relative the Saaris had been raising but have declined to release his name or exact relationship.

Ashland County District Attorney Kelly McKnight will decide on charges.