Twin Cities weekend crime recap

Shots were fired at a funeral gathering in St. Paul, former Hennepin County Commissioner Mike Opat was arrested on a DUI charge, another homecoming game was disrupted, and more.


The Minneapolis Fire Department (MFD) responded early Thursday morning to four possibly suspicious fires involving garages in less than an hour, three of them in the same general area, according to dispatch audio.

An arson investigator was requested to the aftermath of all four fires which took place in the hour between 5:45 to 6:45 a.m. Thursday.

MFD was dispatched about 5:52 a.m. on a report of a garage fire on the 3400 block of 26th Avenue South. The reporting party informed dispatch that the garage is generally used for repairs and that there were chemicals and propane tanks in the garage. Upon arrival, responders aired that it appeared the fire had been started on the outside of the garage.

Another garage fire was aired by dispatch about 6:07 a.m. on the 3600 block of Bryant Avenue South. Several 911 callers told dispatch they thought they heard an explosion.

A third fire was dispatched about 6:46 a.m. on the 4500 block of Snelling Avenue. While firefighters were on site of that fire, they were approached by a neighbor about 6:58 a.m. who said there was another garage fire on the block. Firefighters arrived to find a fire abutting a fence and a garage about mid-block.

In a message to Crime Watch, one resident from the block of the first fire claimed that first responders told them that fire was an arson. A fire department spokesperson confirmed in an email request for information that the fires are considered suspicious “due to the proximity in locations and times,” but declined to provide further information citing the ongoing investigation. The spokesperson said that MPD was called to patrol the area after the fires, but no suspects were found at the time.

Three Minneapolis homeless encampments were evicted by city workers Thursday, including one troublesome camp in the Near North neighborhood kitty-corner from the city’s impound lot. The evictions came after another troublesome encampment near 28th and Bloomington Avenue was evicted last week.

Initial reports began appearing on social media around 8 a.m. regarding the eviction on the 200 block of Girard Avenue North.

Prior aerial view of 205 Girard Ave N encampment (Google Maps)

The Girard encampment has been the subject of media reports about encampment dwellers harboring stolen items including two separate cases of a van and a work trailer filled with thousands of dollars in tools that the victims were unable to retrieve. Police reportedly told one victim that the encampment was “too hostile” to go in and recover the items.

Another small encampment nearby on Van White Memorial Boulevard was also evicted Thursday morning.

Before 6 p.m. Thursday, other social media reports indicated that police were evicting another encampment near East Franklin Avenue and Cedar Avenue in south Minneapolis.

In an email document posted online by the Star Tribune, Director for the City of Minneapolis Regulatory Services Saray Garnett-Hochuli said that the Girard encampment had a “rat infestation,” and that seven chickens had been captured by Minneapolis Animal Care and Control during the eviction. Garnett-Hochuli said three people failed to comply with trespassing orders and were arrested. Garnett-Hochuli said the encampment was being used as a storage area for stolen goods and confirmed the case of the stolen van with tools that was brought to the site.

Garnett-Hochuli said in the email that work is to begin shortly on a multi-unit housing project that will be developed near the Girard site and that the eviction was necessary for the project to move forward. The housing project will include units for low-income individuals as well as five priority homeless units.

Some residents in Minnetonka woke up Thursday to find their vehicles had been broken into. In one case, a single mother’s vehicle was ransacked, and the windows were smashed. The thefts reportedly occurred in the Groveland neighborhood, which borders Deephaven. The thefts followed a warning about thefts from vehicles and other property crimes in Orono. Minnetonka police said Deephaven officers made one arrest early last week after responding to a report of car prowlers. Police said thieves have easy access to the area along Minnetonka Boulevard and remind people to take precautions against thefts by closing garage doors, turning on outside lights, and removing garage door openers from vehicles.

A single mother had her car windows smashed in one of two thefts Thursday night. (Photos provided to Alpha News)

Former Hennepin County Commissioner Mike Opat, 61, of Robbinsdale was charged Thursday with DWI after officers in the city of Dayton, Minn., pulled him over Wednesday night for failure to make a full and complete stop at a signed intersection.

Michael Joseph Opat (Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office)

Charges say a preliminary breath test registered .093 BAC, which is over the legal limit of .08 in Minnesota. Charges say Opat initially agreed to a more thorough subsequent breath test, but then changed his mind. A field sobriety test was not performed due to Opat’s complaint of bad knees, back and ankles. Opat is charged with misdemeanor fourth-degree DWI and a gross misdemeanor charge of third-degree refusing to submit to a breath test.

Opat, a Democrat, served on the Hennepin County Board for 28 years and did not seek re-election in 2020.

Court records show Opat retained a private attorney and was released from custody on $12,000 bond. His next court appearance is scheduled for Dec. 6 at the Brookdale Courthouse in Hennepin County.

Another Twin Cities high school experienced a police incident during homecoming activities for the fourth week in a row that resulted in four people being arrested on weapons charges.

Josiah Tababo Wesseh, 19, of Brooklyn Park, and Kamara Sieh Ishmail, 19, of Coon Rapids have each been charged in Anoka County Court with felony counts of possession of a dangerous weapon on school property and possession of a firearm with no serial number. Two juveniles also face charges of possession of a firearm or ammunition by a person under 18 and possession of a firearm with no serial number; their information is not public due to their ages.

Josiah Tababo Wesseh and Kamara Sieh Ishmail (Anoka County Jail)

Coon Rapids police reported that on Thursday a group of male juveniles was denied entry to the Coon Rapids High School homecoming game. A statement issued by police said that none of the males were affiliated with the school or any other Anoka-Hennepin school. Police eventually escorted the group from the premises.

A witness told police that they saw someone in the group with a gun. Police checked a vehicle associated with the group and saw guns in plain view inside the vehicle including one with an extended magazine, according to charges filed against Wesseh and Ishmail. Police recovered three firearms from the vehicle including one with an auto sear which renders a firearm capable of firing automatically. A fourth gun was found inside another vehicle in which the group was attempting to leave. The vehicle was stopped by multiple squads, according to the CRPD statement.

Charges say all of the firearms were “ghost guns,” bearing no identifying marks.

Wesseh and Ishmail each made initial court appearances on Friday, and both were released from custody the same day, according to jail records.

The CRPD statement said that extra security measures had been implemented for homecoming in light of other recent incidents at school homecoming events in the prior three weeks, including a double shooting at the Richfield High School homecoming on Sept. 23.

Eden Prairie High School was placed on a lockdown on Friday afternoon just before 1 p.m. following an unspecified threat that had been made to a student, according to a Twitter post by Eden Prairie police. The lockdown was lifted around 4 p.m. and kids were released from the school, according to a follow up EPD post. Police said the threat was found not to be credible, but the incident continues to be investigated. A copy of an email reportedly sent by the high school said the threat was an “isolated, targeted incident” and reiterated that the threat was not credible, but they were canceling all planned school activities for the evening, including the school football game which was postponed to Saturday afternoon.

The City of Minneapolis released a statement Friday saying that the city is experiencing a spike in overdose cases. Three people died in separate incidents on Thursday and responders were dispatched to several other overdoses in a 24-hour period on Thursday. In the first seven days of October, there were 55 drug overdoses in Minneapolis.

According to emergency response records, the city responds to an average of eight overdose incidents each day. Through August of this year, 108 people had died due to drug overdoses, the statement said.

In 2021, the city experienced 2,283 overdoses with 197 deaths.

So far this year, there have been 2,113 overdoses. The upsurge in drug use and overdoses is a public health and public safety concern, the city said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported that two-thirds of more than 108,000 overdose deaths in the United States during the 12 months ending in April 2022 involved synthetic opioids, including illicitly manufactured fentanyl.

More information on the city’s opioid response and resources is available on the Minneapolis Health Department’s opioid webpage.

Shots rang out in St. Paul Friday afternoon near a funeral gathering at a church on the 600 block of Iglehart Avenue, according to dispatch audio. There were no initial reports of injuries, but a chaotic scene played out over dispatch starting just before 2 p.m. and continued for several minutes.

Police indicated that several juveniles had fled during the melee and were missing following the shots fired. Another person was found on the ground nearby having a seizure.

Police spoke to witnesses who said there may have been an exchange of gunfire, and the suspects were reported to have fled the area. Police eventually found about 10 spent shell casings in the parking lot of the church and more in a nearby alley. The missing children were eventually reunited with their families, according to the audio. During the investigation, police were flagged down by a retired officer in the area who said a beige vehicle and a lime green Challenger or Charger were involved in the incident.

Police updated over dispatch that the shots had taken place after the funeral was over and that there were no further activities scheduled for the funeral gathering.

Ramsey County Deputy Patrick Scott later posted in a St. Paul community group about the incident and said, “An argument erupted in a nearby church at the after-funeral service luncheon. Shots were fired towards the church by occupant(s) of a vehicle and it appears mourners returned fire multiple times. Witnesses are uncooperative and ‘shouting at the officers.'”

Information on whether suspects had been identified was not immediately available, and no public information was released by police about the incident.

St. Paul police reported one person had been killed Friday evening in a two-vehicle crash at Ames and White Bear avenues. Three other involved parties were transported to the hospital with minor injuries. Police said the incident continues to be investigated. Information about the deceased party was not available at the time of this report.

Maple Grove police arrested Andreas Thomas Sherman, 29, of St. Paul on Friday for shoplifting over $700 in electronic toothbrushes from a retailer, according to charges filed on Monday against Sherman. Police were called to the store on the 8000 block of Wedgewood Lane North where a loss prevention employee told police they observed Sherman take three electric toothbrushes.

Andreas Thomas Sherman (Dakota County warrant photo)

Officers located the suspect vehicle described by loss prevention in or near the parking lot and attempted to stop it when the passenger, later identified as Sherman, got out and fled on foot.

Upon a search of the vehicle, officers located the stolen toothbrushes and what appeared to be several hundred dollars in other stolen merchandise including name-brand clothing and two hammocks. Police also found equipment typically used in retail thefts including strong magnets, wire snips and bolt cutters.

Sherman was charged in Hennepin County Court on Monday with one felony count of possession of burglary tools and a gross misdemeanor count of theft. Sherman is scheduled to make his first court appearance on Tuesday.

Court records show that Sherman has at least two active warrants in Dakota County for theft.

Minneapolis police responded Friday just after 9 p.m. on a report of shots fired inside an apartment building on the 11th floor on the 200 block of Oak Grove Street in the Loring Park neighborhood, according to dispatch audio. Arriving officers reported the smell of gunpowder and spent shell casings found in the hallway on the 11th floor. Officers forced entry into a unit and found a person who had been shot. Dispatch audio indicated that police had several parties at gunpoint inside the unit, but further information about any possible arrested parties was not immediately available. The extent of the victim’s injuries is not known, and no public statement was issued by MPD on the shooting.

A Burnsville officer came upon a stolen vehicle in the parking lot of InTown Suites Saturday about 9:30 a.m. and requested an additional squad to respond, according to dispatch audio. The hotel is located on the 2700 block of Egan Drive, County Road 42 West. The officer aired that it appeared someone may be sleeping in the vehicle. After several squads responded, the occupant was detained at gunpoint.

Jail records show a suspect was booked into custody but had not been formally charged as of Monday afternoon.

A Minneapolis police search perimeter ensued late Saturday night after a police sergeant’s squad was rammed near West Broadway Avenue and Logan Avenue North, according to dispatch audio. The suspect vehicle was reportedly found abandoned nearby and three suspects fled from the vehicle. A handgun was recovered from the vehicle, according to further audio. A female was eventually found hiding in a wood line near a residence, with the assistance of a State Patrol flight operator overhead, and was taken into custody, but the driver who police named over dispatch was not located at the time.

The Roseville Police Department reported on Sunday that Officer Ryan Duxbury had been presented with the “First Responder of the Year” award by the Minnesota 100 Club.

Ryan Duxbury with Officer of the Year award (Roseville Police Dept.)

Officer Duxbury had been shot in the face in April of last year when a suspect fired over 100 shots in a residential neighborhood near Lake Owasso. The Minnesota 100 Club was established in 1972 and was formed to assist officers and their families with immediate financial needs in the event of serious injury or death in the line of duty. The suspect in the shooting was shot by police during the incident and later died at the hospital.

Occupants of a stolen red Kia were reportedly taunting Minneapolis officers around the city for several hours on Saturday, according to dispatch audio. Another dispatch on Sunday morning around 10 a.m. indicated that the same vehicle had reportedly crashed through the wall of a garage on the 2100 block of 3rd Avenue South and then struck a house. The vehicle fled the scene before officers arrived. Another officer on Monday aired to dispatch about 11 a.m. that the same vehicle had just blown by them in the area of West Franklin Avenue and Lasalle Avenue. The vehicle was not stopped or apprehended at that time.

A police officer in Coon Rapids was reportedly injured Sunday night in an altercation with a suspect, according to dispatch audio. Just after 10 p.m., another officer aired to the dispatcher requesting EMS to respond for his partner who thought his leg may be broken. Dispatches at the time of the incident indicated that officers had been in an altercation or fighting with a female suspect who threw her body weight against the officer. Further audio indicated that the suspect had been taken into custody at the scene.

A spokesperson for CRPD responded to an email inquiry and confirmed that an officer had been injured while attempting to arrest an uncooperative suspect who was wanted on a warrant. The officer was treated at a local hospital and released, they said. The spokesperson confirmed that the suspect is in custody in Anoka County Jail and the case is being reviewed for criminal charges.

Around Minnesota

Cambridge police responded Friday to a report of a gun-pointing incident in the area between Cambridge-Isanti High School and the primary and middle schools. In a statement released on the city’s website, police said that just after 8 a.m. officers from the Cambridge Police Department responded to the area of Cypress Street North and 6th Avenue Northwest.

The suspect vehicle was located, and a “high-risk stop” was initiated by officers in a parking lot on the 400 block of Cypress Avenue. Deputies from the Isanti County Sheriff’s Office responded to assist. Five occupants were removed from the vehicle. Three juveniles ended up being taken into custody, and a gun was recovered.

Police said none of the three juveniles taken into custody were students of Cambridge-Isanti High School. The investigation into the incident also revealed that the suspect vehicle was reportedly stolen out of Minnetonka; police said the vehicle was impounded. No further information was made available by police about possible charges in the incident.

Police in St. Cloud responded to an armed robbery at a gas station Friday night. According to a media report, officers were dispatched just before 11 p.m. to the armed robbery in progress at the River Station gas station in the 1300 block of 15th Avenue Southeast. A black male suspect entered the store and pointed a gun at employees and demanded cash from the register. The suspect got away with an undisclosed amount of money. Police are continuing to investigate.

The Cloquet Police Department reported Friday that Brendan Gareth Smith, 43, of Cloquet had been arrested in connection to a home invasion assault that occurred on June 7, 2022, in which a woman was strangled as she slept.

Brendan Gareth Smith (Carlton County Jail)

Smith is charged with first-degree burglary of an occupied dwelling and third-degree assault involving substantial bodily harm and remains in custody at the Carlton County Jail.

According to the Cloquet police statement:

“During the incident, a woman was awoken after an intruder entered the home and began strangling the woman as she slept. The victim’s husband was alerted from another room and later had a brief confrontation with the suspect before the suspect fled the home into the nearby woods. Law enforcement scoured the area but could not locate the suspect then.
Detectives obtained DNA evidence from the scene, which was later analyzed by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension laboratory. 
During the investigation, officers discovered a vehicle parked in a semi-secluded area of woods just south of the victim’s home in the early morning hours of the previous day. Officers noted they thought they heard someone or something in the woods but could not find anyone. They later learned the vehicle was registered to the suspect, Smith. 
Based on eyewitness information and the vehicle owner’s description, it was believed that the owner resembled the suspect. 
Previous court records revealed the suspect was previously charged in 2013 with 4th Criminal Sexual Conduct and was also charged in 2013 with 2nd-degree Criminal Sexual Conduct and False Imprisonment. The defendant was also a non-compliant predatory offender. 
Days after the incident, in the late evening hours on June 11, surveillance cameras at the victim’s home captured footage of a person approaching the deck stairs behind the house. The individual in the footage resembled the male intruder. 
In late July, detectives attempted to execute a search warrant for Smith’s DNA. Smith was resistant and refused to provide a sample. In August, detectives executed a second search warrant for Smith’s DNA. A sample was obtained from Smith and sent to the BCA lab for analysis. 
The BCA recently informed CPD that the samples submitted to their lab contained DNA matching Smith. 
On October 6, 2022, the Carlton County Attorney’s Office issued an arrest warrant for Smith. 
Officers conducted surveillance on Smith’s residence before taking him into custody without incident.” 

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Minnesota Crime Watch & Information publishes news, info and commentary about crime, public safety and livability issues in Minneapolis, the Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota.


Crime Watch MN

Minnesota Crime Watch & Information publishes news, info and commentary about crime, public safety and livability issues in Minneapolis, the Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota.