The Metropolitan Council on Thursday announced the selection of a new Chief of Police for the Metro Transit Police Department.
Ernest Morales III, from New York, was selected following a nationwide search. Morales spent most of his career in the New York City Police Department, the Met Council said.
The selection comes after recent news of a 54% spike in crime on Metro Transit trains and buses in 2022.
The crime spike was not mentioned by the Met Council in their announcement, but they said that “providing a safe, welcoming experience” for transit users and employees is a “top priority” for the Met Council and Metro Transit.
A recent presentation to the council revealed that weapons and assault calls were up, 145% and 28%, respectively, while narcotics-related crimes saw the largest increase in 2022, jumping 182% over 2021’s numbers.
The recent report also addressed staffing issues in the Metro Transit Police Department stating there are 110 full-time officers on staff, down 61 from an authorized strength of 171. In June 2019, there were 138 full-time officers. Overall, the Metro Transit Police Department has an authorized capacity of 354 employees but is down to just 198 people right now, including part-time officers, support services, and community service officers.
Morales replaces Interim Chief Richard Grates who was appointed after former Chief Eddie Frizell joined the US Marshal Service in charge of the Minnesota division.
Morales will officially begin duties on Feb. 27.
Tiwan Darnell Puller, 31, of St. Paul was sentenced on Thursday in the north Minneapolis hit and run death of Alexandra Joyce Renee Perkins, 21, last September.
The crash occurred about 3:30 a.m. on Sept. 14 on West Broadway Avenue near the I-94 exit ramp, and Puller was driving on a revoked license at the time of the crash. Puller first rear-ended a vehicle on I-94 and sped away at about 80 mph and exited onto West Broadway Avenue where he drove through a yellow light and struck Perkins, who “went high in the sky,” Puller later told police. After striking Perkins, Puller failed to stop and continued to the southbound I-94 entrance ramp. Puller then struck a concrete barrier and a metal guardrail. Puller exited his vehicle and tried to enter the vehicle of the victim he had first struck before returning to his own vehicle where police found him.
A responding state trooper observed Puller fall out of his vehicle and detected a strong odor of marijuana and alcohol coming from Puller following the crash. Responders found a large bag of marijuana outside the passenger door of the vehicle. A subsequent blood draw revealed the presence of methamphetamine and traces of THC, as well as a blood alcohol content of .04.
An amended criminal complaint charged Puller with two counts of criminal vehicular homicide, one involving leaving the scene, and one involving operating a vehicle under the influence of a controlled substance.
Puller was offered a plea deal from prosecutors agreeing to dismiss the first count of leaving the scene, and he pled guilty to the second count. Judge Juan G. Hoyos approved the plea agreement and sentenced Puller to five years in prison, which was specified in the plea agreement. Minnesota statute provides for a sentence of up to ten years for the crime.
Under Minnesota law which only requires offenders to serve two-thirds of their sentence incarcerated, Puller is scheduled for release in May 2026 after serving just over three years.
The City of Minneapolis implemented one-side street parking restrictions on Thursday, banning parking on the even side of most residential streets. Snow Emergency Routes and parkways are excepted from the rule.
The ban was implemented to assist emergency responders in navigating narrowed city streets due prior snowfall amounts.
Minneapolis Fire Chief Bryan Tyner explained in a video that the streets had become virtually impassable for large fire rigs, other emergency vehicles, and school buses.
As of Monday morning, cars were still seen parked on both sides of the street in many areas with few reports of tagging or towing occurring.
Colfax Avenue S in Calhoun Isles.
Not a Snow Emergency Route. pic.twitter.com/uxgyyiyQUU
— CrimeWatchMpls (@CrimeWatchMpls) January 30, 2023
The White Bear Lake Police Department provided an update on Friday about the officer involved shooting that had taken place last Tuesday evening. Several WBL officers were fired upon while trying arrest a felony domestic assault suspect before 10 p.m. on the 3100 block of Karth Road.
Officer Ryan Sheak, who is a six-year veteran of the department, was struck by gunfire multiple times. Police chief Julie Swanson said in the statement that due to the “quick and heroic actions” of officer Sheak and his partners, Sheak was able to be quickly extracted from the scene and transported to the hospital where he remained in stable condition last week.
A stand-off ensued for several hours before the suspect, Daniel Loren Holmgren, 33, was taken into custody.
Holmgren was charged Thursday in Ramsey County District Court with first-degree attempted murder of a peace officer, and four counts of first-degree assault of a peace officer through use of deadly force.
Court records show that Holmgren has been the subject of numerous civil court cases involving his mental health stretching back to 2008 and has been psychiatrically committed several times, as recently as a year ago.
During his first court appearance on Friday, Judge Paul Yang ordered Holmgren to undergo a mental competency evaluation and bail was set at $3 million. Holmgren remains in custody.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives St. Paul Field Division issued an alert Friday morning warning federally licensed firearms licensees (gun shops and dealers) to take precautions with inventory and records ahead of “potential civil unrest” in the Twin Cities Metro area.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) St. Paul has confirmed that an alert was sent out today, Fri Jan. 27, 2023, to federal firearms licensees (FFLs-licensed gun shops and dealers) warning of potential unrest in the Twin Cities and to take precautions. pic.twitter.com/kgKKkt3gWX
— CrimeWatchMpls (@CrimeWatchMpls) January 27, 2023
The specific nature and cause of the potential civil unrest was not specified by the ATF but the warning was presumably related to protests breaking out in other areas of the country following the death of civilian Tyre Nichols at the hands of five black Memphis police officers last week.
There were no widespread reports of protest incidents in the Twin Cities related to the death but there were media reports of about 100 people who showed up to demonstrate outside the Governor’s Mansion on Summit Avenue in St. Paul Sunday.
Shawn Kellin Goodloe, 19, of Brooklyn Park was charged Friday in connection to the Minneapolis shooting homicide of 15-year-old Dwayne Scott Dzubay-Percy on Jan. 13, 2023, near 40th and Dupont Avenue North.
The MPD statement following the shooting stated that Dzubay-Percy had been driving a stolen Kia when he was shot. Dispatch audio at the time indicated that a silver van had been closely following the Kia at the time of the shooting and that a person could be seen “clearly hanging out the window” of the van.
Charges say that based on various surveillance videos, police were able to determine that Goodloe was the driver of that van and that just prior to the shooting the Kia and the van had encountered each other at a nearby gas station. The van had been in the gas station parking lot when the Kia entered. An occupant of the Kia passed by an occupant of the van as each entered and exited the store. Charges say it’s unknown if there was any interaction between the two, but another person inside the van could be seen pointing at the Kia. When the Kia left the parking lot, the van followed and chased the Kia down Dowling Avenue North. The shooting occurred a few minutes later.
Following his arrest, Goodloe admitted to being the driver of the van during the shooting. He said one of the passengers he knew only as “Junior” directed him to follow the Kia. He admitted he knew Junior had a gun and that he was told by others which way to drive after the shots were fired, and he did so.
Goodloe has been charged with aid/abet second-degree murder and aid/abet second degree murder while committing a felony. He made his first court appearance on Friday and was granted a public defender. Goodloe remains in custody on $1 million bail.
St. Paul police were dispatched Saturday about 9:45 p.m. on a report of a person who had been shot in both feet on the 1000 block of Duluth Street, according to dispatch audio. The suspects had been described at the time as three to five juveniles who fled in a black Honda. Police later told media that a man heard glass breaking and had been shot in both feet after interrupting a vehicle break-in. No suspects had been arrested at the time.
Eden Prairie police arrested Donald Wynn Williams, 34, early Sunday morning on a felony warrant for domestic strangulation related to a case that was charged in Ramsey County last fall.
Tough guy, MMA fighter, and alleged domestic abuser, Donald Wynn Williams, 34, has been arrested on felony warrant in the domestic strangulation case after a judge ordered his conditional release revoked for failure to comply with conditions. Also has a disorderly warrant. pic.twitter.com/QEFJGdZoLQ
— CrimeWatchMpls (@CrimeWatchMpls) January 29, 2023
Williams, who previously testified as a witness for the prosecution in the Derek Chauvin murder trial of George Floyd and described himself as an expert martial artist skilled in choke holds, stands accused of choking his ex-girlfriend during an argument.
Williams had been released on zero bail by Judge Jacob Krause after making an initial appearance in the case last August. Court records show an order was signed last week by the same judge revoking Williams’ conditional release for failure to comply with the conditions of release. The order did not specify the exact nature of the violation.
Charges in the case said Williams got into an argument with his ex-girlfriend over ice on Aug. 27 while the two were setting up with their three children near the State Fairgrounds in St. Paul to sell bottled water to fairgoers. The victim told police that Williams reached into her vehicle and grabbed her by the throat, strangling her. While strangling the victim, Williams used his other hand to backhand the victim on the left side of her face. The victim told police that Williams stopped when a female in the area yelled, “hey!” at Williams. He fled the area but was eventually apprehended.
Williams is currently being held in Hennepin County Jail for transport to Ramsey County Jail on the warrant.
The Minnesota State Patrol and Ramsey County law enforcement were engaged in the pursuit of a stolen vehicle Sunday after 4 p.m. that ended up crashing in downtown St. Paul just before 5 p.m. (top photo).
The pursuit began about 4:10 p.m. for the stolen red Suburban near Hwy 36 and McKnight Road, according to dispatch audio. The pursuit was terminated at one point after the vehicle began driving into oncoming traffic. State Patrol air support joined the search and picked up the vehicle a short time later and tracked its movements in the east metro while squads trailed in the area.
The suspect vehicle continued to drive into oncoming traffic and also stopped at one point on the 900 block of Duchess Street in St. Paul where the suspect got out of the vehicle and appeared to throw or ditch something before getting back into the vehicle.
Stop sticks were eventually deployed in front of the vehicle puncturing the tires at East 7th and Cypress streets. The vehicle entered into downtown St. Paul while losing its tires where it was met by St. Paul squads which attempted a pursuit intervention technique (PIT). The vehicle was struck by a squad finally disabling it near East 7th and Robert streets in downtown, and the suspect was taken into custody.
Jail records show that lifelong offender Brian Thomas McCarthy, 35, of St. Paul was arrested and booked into custody on probable cause charges of motor vehicle theft and fleeing police. He remained in custody on Monday awaiting formal charges.
Minnesota court records show a lengthy conviction history for McCarthy back to 2005 and spanning several counties. Convictions include at least 21 felonies that include multiple vehicle thefts, multiple burglaries, felon in possession of a firearm, multiple fleeing police, second-degree assault, possession of stolen property, other assault, and possession of burglary tools.
McCarthy also has several pending felony cases in at least three counties that include felon in possession of a firearm, auto theft, multiple fleeing police, threats of violence, second-degree assault. Two of those cases were charged earlier this month and the other was charged last June.
McCarthy had been out of custody on bond amounts in all three pending cases, and court records show he posted bond in one of those cases as recently as this past Friday when he was released from custody in Isanti County.
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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.