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Liz Sawyer

Reporter | Breaking news, crime and corrections
Phone: 612-673-4648
Location: Minneapolis
Other languages: None

Liz Sawyer covers breaking news, crime and corrections for the Star Tribune. She previously wrote about suburban life in the south metro.


Sawyer graduated from Syracuse University's Newhouse School of Public Communications with a degree in newspaper and online journalism. She worships her alma mater's college hoops team and believes that an orange is, in fact, a suitable mascot.
Recent content from Liz Sawyer
The crash at 40th and University avenues NE. that left a pedestrian seriously injured was under investigation Saturday night.

Pedestrian seriously injured after being struck by vehicle in Columbia Heights

It happened just before 7 p.m. at 40th and University avenues NE.

One dead, several critically injured in crash near Little Falls

A medical helicopter responded to the scene on Forest Road, just north of Little Falls.
Somali leaders and other community members gathered outside the Amazon fulfillment center in Shakopee to protest working conditions on Friday.

Workers protest conditions at Amazon's Shakopee center

Somali-American workers cite special challenges at local fulfillment center.
Gavin M. Hutson

Normandale student charged with assaulting teachers allegedly had gun in backpack

Attacks followed request to suspect to stay after class to discuss his remarks to another student.
The attempt to kidnap an 8-year-old girl happened around 5:30 p.m. in the area of 41st Street and Chowen Avenue S. — just outside Lake Harriet Lower

Man tried to abduct girl, 8, outside Lake Harriet Lower Elementary School

Minneapolis police are asking for the public's help locating the man, described as white, about 50 to 60, with a long black beard.
Alan Geisenkoetter Jr.

Snowmobiler found guilty of 3rd-degree murder in drunken crash killing boy on lake

It took the jury just four hours to reach a unanimous decision in an emotional case that changed state law long before the trial began.
Mohamed Noor, center, accompanied by his legal team, Peter Wold, left, and Tom Plunkett, arrive to argue pretrial motions at a probable cause hearing

Judge approves adding second-degree murder charge against fired officer Noor

Judge Katherine Quaintance approved the state's request seeking an upgraded count in the shooting death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond.
The Rush City prison, shown around its opening.

Minnesota Department of Corrections in talks with Rush City prisoners after work strike

Rush City prisoners say they're being mistreated.

Robbinsdale hit-and-run suspect turns himself in to police

The 44-year-old motorist from Brooklyn Park walked into the Robbsindale Police Department.

Body found submerged in Crow River inside vehicle matching car of missing Monticello woman

Wright County sheriff’s deputies on Tuesday discovered a body inside a submerged vehicle in the Crow River believed to be a missing Monticello woman. Officers…

Robbinsdale police seek help locating hit-and run-suspect who hospitalized pedestrian

Robbinsdale police are seeking the public’s help in identifying a hit-and-run driver who seriously injured a pedestrian Monday evening. Officers responded to a crash report…

Authorities find dead man floating in Mississippi River in Minneapolis

Hennepin County sheriff's deputies and Minneapolis police responded to just past the St. Anthony Lock and Dam around noon.
Aaron Biard

North Mpls. precinct chief demoted after Christmas tree uproar

The lieutenant in charge of the day shift was also replaced after a photo of the tree surfaced on social media, sparking a public backlash.
The area around where the man was found dead in Minneapolis, just south of downtown.

Man dead in apparent homicide near Park and Franklin avenues in Minneapolis

The man had wounds indicating a recent physical altercation, which may have triggered a heart attack. He died at the scene.
Lifelong volunteer Ruth Knelman, 108, read “The Owl and the Kitty Cat” to children at Temple Israel.

In Minneapolis, Grandma Ruth, 108, remains a 'perpetual volunteer'

Ruth Knelman's mission of volunteerism began 65 years ago, when she, her late husband and young son moved to Minneapolis from North Dakota.
Amid falling snow during rush hour a bicyclist with purple lights adorning her bike makes her way along S. 9th St. in downtown Minneapolis on Wednesda

Lakeville woman critically hurt in crash on icy road after snow hits Twin Cities

It was one of hundreds of crashes as snow flurries slickened Twin Cities roadways just in time for the evening commute, slowing traffic.
The smashed gate at Duluth International Aiport on Friday morning.

Duluth man charged with crashing through airport gate, taking runway joyride

The joyride took place while a commercial flight was boarding, officials said, but the FBI does not believe it was related to terrorism.
Feben Ghilagaber works as a server at a restaurant in the airport marched with other workers during a rally for a $15 minimum wage Wednesday outside T

MSP Airport workers rally for $15 minimum wage, unionization

Though protesters chose the airport's busiest day to gather, traffic was not disrupted.

Montrose man pleads guilty to killing his 5-month-old baby

Darnell Jerome Davis, sentenced to 17 years in prison for second-degree murder, said he was sleep-deprived and trying to quiet his crying baby.

Two teenage pedestrians struck in St. Francis crosswalk, hospitalized

The 62-year-old driver from Isanti stopped at the scene and was cooperating with police.
Minneapolis firefighters were on the scene at the tent encampment in Minneapolis.

Mpls. homeless encampment fire caused by unattended heater

The cause has been ruled accidental.
Firefighters work outside the Robbinsdale senior living home that was evacuated Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018.

Two dozen people evacuated from Robbinsdale senior living home; repellent blamed

Some residents were taken to the hospital as a precaution.
Rod Thompson, former Shakopee schools superintendent.

Ex-Shakopee superintendent pleads guilty to felony theft, embezzlement

Rod Thompson's plea calls for two years in prison and restitution.
Missing toddler found and with mother, West St. Paul police say

Missing toddler found and with mother, West St. Paul police say

The 21-month-old had last been seen with her father on Wednesday night.
The BolaWrap nonlethal restraint was demonstrated to representatives from local police departments at the Chaska fire station.

Chaska PD becomes first Minnesota police department to test BolaWrap 100

Officials hope device will provide options to police.

Pedestrian killed in St. Cloud hit-and-run; 20-year-old later arrested

A pedestrian was struck and killed Wednesday afternoon in downtown St. Cloud by a 20-year-old motorist, who fled the scene and was later arrested by…
Rod Thompson

FBI: Ex-Shakopee superintendent sought bribe from school contractor

Rod Thompson, 53, is already facing 20 felony counts related to accusations that he embezzled more than $70,000 from the school district.
Feed My Starving Children founder Richard Proudfit in 2012.

Feed My Starving Children founder Richard Proudfit dies at 88

The Christian-based organization has packed and sent more than 2 billion meals to starving people in 70 countries around the world.
Guy Wicklander showed the indention in his skull from being bludgeoned with a wrench by an inmate in 1999.

Minnesota officers feel like 'outcasts' as prisoner attacks surge

Two deaths have put a spotlight on a dangerous job

Light snowfall causes transit delays in downtown Minneapolis

In northern Minnesota, a teenager died in a crash on an icy road early Saturday.
Officers taped off the street at the site on Morgan Avenue N. in Minneapolis where a man was fatally shot by police Friday afternoon.

Minneapolis police fatally shoot armed suicidal man

The confrontation came after officers responded to a mental health crisis call.
Quinn Nystrom has dedicated her life to easing the way for other Type 1 patients less able to afford care and insulin.

Diabetes advocate shares personal journey to inspire hope

Quinn Nystrom of Baxter, Minn., is a national diabetes advocate who travels the country sharing lessons from her own battle with Type 1 diabetes and empowering others to conquer the disease.
Julie Tholen of St. Paul chants during at a protest in support of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

Hundreds rally at Minnesota State Capitol in defense of Mueller investigation

Crowd at Capitol chanted, "Rule of law!" and sang "This Land Is Your Land."
Trimell Chamberlain, left, and Try’Reshia Chamberlain

Brooklyn Park police locate missing 3-year-old

Brooklyn Park police have located the missing 3-year-old girl who authorities say was abducted by her father last May.The child was turned over to detectives…
Robbinsdale police seek public's help in searching for boy, 11

Robbinsdale police seek public's help in searching for boy, 11

Robbinsdale police are asking for the public’s help in searching for a missing 11-year-old boy who threatened to run away from home on Monday evening.…
Emergency medical personnel gather at the scene of a hit-and-run accident Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018, in Lake Hallie, Wis., that killed three girls and an

3 Girl Scouts among 4 killed in western Wis. hit-and-run crash

A 21-year-old driver is in custody after allegedly fleeing the scene along a county road where the girls had been picking up litter.
Templegoers embraced at Friday’s Shabbat service at Shir Tikvah in Minneapolis.

On a solemn Shabbat, Mpls. synagogue and love overflow

The confluence at Shir Tikvah of Jewish congregants and interfaith allies — one echoed nationwide — came nearly a week after the massacre in Pittsburgh by a gunman shouting anti-Semitic slurs.
Five people were shot, with one critically hurt, on Thursday afternoon in north Minneapolis.

5 hospitalized after being shot in north Minneapolis

One of the victims is in critical condition, police say.
St. Thomas President Julie Sullivan has released a lengthy “Action Plan to Combat Racism.”

University of St. Thomas removes 'It's OK to be white' poster

The sign, which was similar to others posted at other colleges, appeared a day after a campuswide forum on bias.

Authorities find body in Kandiyohi County field

Kandiyohi County officials are investigating after a body was found in a central Minnesota field Wednesday afternoon.
Oak Park Heights corrections officer's death is ruled a homicide

Oak Park Heights corrections officer's death is ruled a homicide

Also, two more officers have been hospitalized after another attack at the maximum-security prison.
Jennifer Smith, left, and Suzi Allard, aunts of Jayme Closs, stand behind the podium during the press conference. Allard holds Jayme's dog Molly.

Family of missing Jayme Closs: 'We will never stop looking for you'

The girl's relatives broke their silence at a news conference at which the FBI offered a $25,000 reward for information about her whereabouts.

FBI investigating deaths of two Minneapolis men on Red Lake Indian Reservation

Few details are being released about the deaths, which happened Sunday.

Former Burnsville swim coach faces new felony sex assault charges

A second woman reports that he sexually abused her as a teen athlete.
Union leaders say the conditions have caused morale to plummet and triggered an exodus of line staff in Stillwater and Oak Park Heights prisons, pictu

In wake of Minn. prison deaths, union calls for 327 new corrections officers

Amid a startling surge in violence inside Minnesota state prisons, the corrections officers' union demanded Thursday that the Legislature fund hiring of an additional…
Curtis LeMair, a wrestler at Northern State University in Aberdeen, S.D., died in his residence hall.

Freshman from Prior Lake found dead in South Dakota college dorm room

Authorities say they do not suspect foul play.

3 face multiple felony charges in Twin Cities armed robberies

Police caught up with the trio after they allegedly crashed a stolen vehicle into a police cruiser.
Archer Amorosi, 16.

Carver County deputies who shot and killed Chanhassen teen won't be charged

Archer Amorosi charged at officers after he implored them to shoot him, the report said.

Police: Armed robbery suspects crashed stolen vehicle into Apple Valley police cruiser

Two adult males and one teenage boy have been arrested.
The Minnesota Correctional Facility in Oak Park Heights, Minnesota's only level five, maximum security prison.

5 corrections officers injured at Oak Park Heights prison

All were treated at area hospitals and released.
Andrea Parise, center, widow of corrections officer Joseph Parise, leaves his graveside services at Fairview Cemetery in Stillwater, Minn., on Tuesday

'He was a hero' : Hundreds of officers salute correctional officer Joe Parise at Fort Snelling funeral

Full honors salute second corrections officer to die on duty in 2 months.
Fort Snelling funeral for corrections officer Joe Parise planned Tuesday

Fort Snelling funeral for corrections officer Joe Parise planned Tuesday

The Oak Park Heights officer will have a full line-of-duty procession to honor his service.

18-year-old jailed after incident in which Minneapolis police officer fired gun

He pulled a gun on pursuing officers, authorities say.
Teen charged in deadly distracted-driving crash in Elk River

Teen charged in deadly distracted-driving crash in Elk River

An off-duty Blaine police officer and a University of Minnesota professor were killed in June.
A Woodbury police officer was seriously injured early Friday when his squad car was rear-ended on Interstate 494.

Woodbury officer seriously injured in overnight crash with tow truck on I-494

Officer Bryan Wagner, 30, remains hospitalized with "significant injuries" and is expected to survive.
Oak Park Heights Corrections officers Jeff Vars, and Derek Magle, also AFSCME local 915 officers and AFSCME council 5 associate director Tim Henderson

Corrections officers union calls for harsher penalties for assaulting staff in Minn. prisons

Renewed calls for reforms come one day after the death of an officer rushing to help another colleague being assaulted by an inmate at Oak Park Heights prison.
Everson Griffen

Griffen involved in police incident Saturday at Minneapolis hotel

Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen remains away from the team for what coach Mike Zimmer called "a personal matter" after Griffen was involved in an police incident Saturday.

Crash that caused backup on I-94 in western Wisconsin is cleared

The crash east of Menomonie casued 3-plus-mile backups.

Minneapolis man killed in rear-end crash after vehicle stalls on I-494

A Minneapolis man was killed in a rear-end crash early Friday after his vehicle stalled in the middle of Interstate 494, on the Bloomington-Richfield border,…
A small plane was ripped from its hangar and flipped by a tornado at Faribault Municipal Airport earlier Thursday night.

Severe storms cause 'significant' damage in southeastern Minn.

In the Twin Cities, residents sloshed through flooded streets in some areas. Clouds and storms are expected to clear out Friday, with clear skies and cool temperatures moving in.

Inmate attacks corrections officer at Rush City prison

She was punched in the face while at her desk.
The booking mug for Kevin Rust from the Barron County Sheriff's Department.

Benilde-St. Margaret's tennis coach fired, faces felony sex charges

Kevin Rust, 59, of Minnetonka, was arrested earlier this summer during an undercover internet child enticement investigation.
The University of Minnesota .

Student found dead at frat house near U's St. Paul campus identified

Police do not believe foul play or hazing were involved in the 20-year-old's death.
A makeshift memorial was set up in the alley just behind Cliff N Norms bar in Minneapolis, where one man was killed and three were injured by gunfire

Police comb for clues after 3 are shot dead in Minneapolis, St. Paul

Police ask witnesses to come forward: "Help us help you."
Minneapolis police responding to a report of shots fired Friday night in the Cedar-Riverside area found a man dead in a car behind Hard Times Cafe.

2 men are dead, 3 people hurt in two Minneapolis shootings

One man was found dead outside a bar near W. Broadway and Washington Avenue N. Another man was found slain in a car behind a Cedar-Riverside cafe.

Toddler found wandering in Minneapolis reunited with family

The child, estimated to be about 18 months old, was found walking barefoot in the 2700 block of Nicollet Avenue S.
Joseph Gomm

Stillwater prison employees' refusal to work in vocational area highlights safety dispute

The union for Minnesota correctional officers is demanding more staff and cameras.
Water from torrential rains cascades over Cannon Falls on the Little Cannon River after big rainfalls Tuesday and early Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018, in C

Major floods fail to develop, but southwest Wisconsin remains on guard

A flood warning remains in effect through Thursday evening from Ontario, Wis., to Steuben.
Assistant Chief Kathy Wuorinen congratulates Officer Alexander Graham, right, for earning two Lifesaving Awards on Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2018.

St. Paul police officer honored with two lifesaving awards

St. Paul's Alexander Graham kept two victims from bleeding to death.
Sister Mary Virginia Micka

Poet, artist and English professor Sister Mary Virginia Micka dies at 96

Even after retirement, she couldn't bear to leave behind the classroom or her art.
In this Jan. 6, 2018 file photo, St. Paul K-9 Gilly, a 5-year-old Belgian Malinois, sat for a portrait with his partner officer Colleen Rooney.

Mayor Carter halts K-9 demonstrations at State Fair

No canine demonstrations are permitted until the police department's K-9 audit is complete.

Operator of Farmington shelter where 64 cats were found dead is charged with animal cruelty

After numerous complaints, authorities in May removed more than 40 live cats, five dogs, a farm pig, guinea pig and a dead rabbit from a single-family home in rural Dakota County.

Fairmont officer cleared in fatal police shooting

The BCA determined that officer Craig Fowler was justified in using deadly force against 23-year-old Nicholas D. Moore.
Judge Nancy Brasel

Senate confirms Hennepin County Judge Nancy Brasel for federal bench

Eric Tostrud, a Minneapolis private attorney, is also expected to be confirmed by week's end.
Michael A. Herkal

Burnsville father charged with murder following death of infant

Michael A. Herkal remains jailed in lieu of $750,000 bail.
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