Sometimes the most memorable tales from a story don’t make it out of a reporter’s notebook onto the printed page, for one reason or another.
Meet Olga Johnson of Longfellow. Last Friday, she had what’s probably the most exciting night in her house on 34th Avenue S. since she moved in when Ike was president.
When the storm struck, this octogenarian widow didn’t head for the basement like her neighbors. “I didn’t think of it,” she said. She peered through her windows as 60 mile-an-hour winds tossed branches around and felled the boulevard elm with the yard-thick trunk that’s been her streetside sentinel .
But that was just the beginning. Someone smelled gas, and soon a firefighter was at her door telling her she had to leave until the gas was shut off. She walked off down the alley and soon a nearby resident invited her in to share the porch until the all-clear. She didn’t get to bed until around 2 a.m.
But her sleep was interrupted by a boom and then voices. A car slammed into the immovable elm stretched across the road in the dark, sending five people, including two children, to the hospital.
Next day, a motorcyclist decided to take a short cut through her front yard to detour around the tree. Later, she had to shoo off skateboarders who found the tipped slab of her sidewalk to be irresistible.
She was still waiting for the gas company to restore her service on Monday. She got her electricity back after a mere 13 hours, far better than others in the area. Ironically, she bought a gas range years ago because people advised her that she couldn’t cook with electricity if the power was off.
She expects she’ll need to water her yard more often without the shade of her elm. The east-facing porch will be hotter in the morning. “The realization of the tree being down to stay makes me feel sad,” she said.
Members of the Minneapolis Firefighters Association will be available on Wednesday to help the elderly and people without the resources to clear their yards of downed trees and branches. They'll be available Wednesday from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. If you know someone, contact Joe Mattison, secretary of the Minneapolis Firefighters at firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone at: 612-788-7578.
By Abby Simons
The woman charged with kidnapping the 8-month old son of a friend in February has been deemed mentally competent to stand trial.
Isabel Diaz-Castillo, 30, is scheduled for a Sept. 24 Jury trial in Hennepin County District Court for a single count of felony kidnapping.
A man's body was pulled from a pond just north of downtown Minneapolis Wednesday afternoon, said Lisa Kiava, a spokesperson for the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office. The man's identity was not immediately available.
Kiava said friends of the man went looking for him Wednesday and found him floating in the pond at 250 Van White Memorial Blvd., a spot where the group sometimes hung out, said Kiava. They called police at 12:25 p.m.
The Hennepin County Sheriff's office recovered the body. The Hennepin County Medical Examiner's office will release his name after completing an autopsy.
A Minneapolis education assistant has been put on a year’s probation and remains on unpaid leave after bringing a loaded handgun to Seward Montessori School the week after school shootings grabbed national attention in December.
The district identified the aide who brought the .357 Magnum gun to the school as Kathleen E. Scozzari, in response to a Star Tribune data practices law request. She is a 21-year district employee.
The 59-year-old northeast Minneapolis resident has been on leave without pay from her $19.90 per hour job since the Dec. 19 incident, in which her gun was recovered from her locked locker in a staff room. The incident occurred a week after the mass school shootings in Newton, Conn.
“She was immediately cooperative. She explained her motives to the police right away," said attorney Sarah MacGillis, who represented Scozzari. "Her principal concern was protecting the students.”
McGillis said that Scozzari pled guilty under a misdemeanor portion of the law generally banning dangerous weapons from schools as a felony. That's because she had a permit to carry a gun. Adults who have a state permit to carry a gun may bring the firearm to school only with written permission from a principal or other school authority.
Scozzari pleaded guilty to possession of a dangerous weapon in Hennepin County District Court last month. In addition to the probation, she was given a sentence of five days of community service. But MacGillis said Scozzari's conviction wil be vacated if she successfully completes probation.
According to the district, a final disposition hasn’t been reached in its investigation of her and she remains a district employee, although she is not on active status. Star Tribune calls to her household for comment were hung up on.
More recently, police were reported to be still investigating a May incident in which a firearm brought to Bethune Community School discharged on school grounds.
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