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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
Get ready for another shutdown of Interstate 35W south of downtown Minneapolis because of weekend construction.

I-35W closed this weekend from I-94 to Crosstown

Starting Friday night, drivers need an alternate route to and downtown Minneapolis.

Star Tribune wins seven Headliner awards for print, visual journalism

The Star Tribune has won seven National Headliner Awards, including two first-place honors. The newspaper’s journalists were distinguished for a variety of projects, ranging from…
A BCA investigator photographs the scene of an officer-involved shooting near the 9900 block of Foley Blvd., Thursday in Coon Rapids.

Relatives, friends identify man shot by police in Coon Rapids

John Fairbanks Sr., 40, leaves behind a pregnant wife and young son.
Aaron Doering

University of Minnesota professor and explorer pleads guilty to domestic assault

Climate change expert Aaron Doering will serve 180 days in the workhouse and complete two years of probation.
Abby Honold joined Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, Police Chief Medaria Arradondo and others to roll out the Minneapolis Police Department's sexual assa

Activist Abby Honold appointed to Minnesota sentencing guidelines commission

Honold has advocated for better police training since a 2014 rape.
Missing Belle Plaine teen found safe

Missing Belle Plaine teen found safe

Andrew Cunat was reunited with his family late Wednesday.
A file photo from the outside of Highland Park Elementary School. In a letter, the principal assured families that "no threats were made, and there wa

Loaded gun confiscated from second-grader's backpack at St. Paul school

Police said the student's mother could face charges.

St. Paul police investigating homicide after man found dead in his home

They say autopsy results suggest victim found in W. Seventh area was killed.
Are rowdy basketball fans to blame for vandalized "M" at Gold Medal Park?

Are rowdy basketball fans to blame for vandalized "M" at Gold Medal Park?

Vandals appear to have stood on the letter and pulled like crazy, according to an official of the company that manages the park. Eventually, the welded bottom broke free.
The Virginia Cavalier and Texas Tech Red Raider mascots

Get to know the schools: Final Four has come down to Texas Tech and Virginia

Tradition runs deeper than on the floor for the two finalists, neither of which has ever won a men's basketball championship.

6 Rochester officers present at fatal encounter are identified

Albert Dashow, 39, died in the March 27 altercation. The exact cause of his death is still under investigation.
Family and friends of Amber Hopkins kept vigil at the site where her discarded body was found in north Minneapolis.

Death of woman found in Minneapolis snow pile haunts family and community

Relatives of Amber Hopkins can't fathom how she wound up in an abandoned lot in north Minneapolis covered in brush, trash and debris.
Minneapolis police spokesman John Elder said investigators are treating an abandoned North Side house as a crime scene after a woman's body was found

Body found in north Minneapolis was woman missing since January, her family says

The body was found in the backyard of an abandoned home near N. 36th and Dupont avenues.
Corrections Commissioner Paul Schnell, second from left, is pushing for a five-member board to which inmates receive supervised release. Minnesota is

Could parole board make a comeback in Minnesota?

New corrections commissioner says advisory group could reduce bias in decisions to free offenders.
Pedestrian fatally hit by vehicle on Kellogg Boulevard was North St. Paul man

Pedestrian fatally hit by vehicle on Kellogg Boulevard was North St. Paul man

The crash occurred around 6:30 a.m., killing 54-year-old Dan Lytle, his family said.
Minneapolis firefighters responded to a fire Wednesday at the Grain Exchange building.

Fires damages Minneapolis Grain Exchange building

No one was hurt in the incident, which resulted in the cordoning off of the historic block.
Michael Herzog suffered second- and third-degree burns over nearly 80 percent of his body, according to his CaringBridge page.

Detroit Lakes man in critical condition after Moorhead fish house explosion

Michael Herzog suffered second- and third-degree burns over nearly 80 percent of his body.

19-year-old man turns himself in after St. Paul homicide

The victim of Friday night's fatal shooting in Frogtown was identified as Mark Franklin Jr., 21.
Heavy rains flooded the intersection between Cedar Avenue and Minnehaha Parkway in Minneapolis on Thursday.

Rising water leads to mobile home park evacuation in Jordan

Street flooding intensified in southern Minnesota, as snow hit the north.
The cattle barn at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds collapsed Tuesday night.

Roofs collapse at Shakopee motel, barn at State Fairgrounds

No initial reports of any injuries as rain fell on the already wet and heavy snow.
U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., and former U.S. President Barack Obama

Rep. Ilhan Omar's remarks on President Obama stir up fresh furor

U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar is facing a new round of controversy following comments in an interview that implied that former President Barack Obama's political prowess helped him get "away with murder."
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety released this photo of counterfeit oxycodone pills laced with fentanyl.

Minnesotans warned of deadly counterfeit 'Mexican Oxy' pills

Counterfeit drug is linked to at least one fatal overdose in the state.
Doug McLeod

45TV hockey announcer McLeod says he's 'mortified' after lynching comment

Doug McLeod had been invited back to the 75th annual high school hockey championships at the X with a group of fellow broadcasting veterans.
Jake T. Patterson, charged with kidnapping 13-year-old Jayme Closs and killing her parents last fall, appeared for a brief hearing in Barron County Ci

Wis. man charged with kidnapping Jayme Closs writes he'll plead guilty

Jake Patterson wrote to KARE 11 that he has "huge amounts" of remorse.
This screengrab from a video on Twitter showed a man who was shoved heading backward out the door of a McDonald’s in Eden Prairie.

Man who brandished gun during Eden Prairie McDonald's encounter pleads guilty

Lloyd Johnson will have to comply with a lifetime firearms ban.
Dmitri Moua of Roseville practices in his back yard while his mom Boa watches. loves to dance and is on his school’s dance team in Minnesota. Moua i

Court grants Minnesota boys' request to compete on dance teams

The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals cited the 14th Amendment requirement that no state can "deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."
The newly reborn Armory in downtown Minneapolis.

Ferris wheel on Nicollet Mall is part of Final Four festivities

A free music festival at the Minneapolis Armory and an outdoor venue is part of the growing list of festivities.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison was among the local leaders at a listening session Wednesday night at the Brian Coyle Community Center in Min

Profiling, housing among top concerns at Cedar-Riverside listening session

Police profiling and lack of public housing were among the top worries.
Christine Giroux exits the voting booth at Transit Town Hall, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. At 91.4 percent, in 2016, Sibley County had one of the highest pe

Minnesota to become a 2020 'Super Tuesday' primary state

State joins potent voting bloc on March 3 as it shifts to presidential primary.
Man fatally shot in head while sitting in a van, St. Paul police say

Man fatally shot in head while sitting in a van, St. Paul police say

A 911 caller reported hearing 10 shots ring out near the intersection of N. Avon Street and Carroll, across from Carty Park.
Abdi Yusuf Hassan

Somali-born U.S. citizen arrested in Minneapolis, charged with taking journalist captive

The defendant and others held their victim captive in Somalia for nearly 2 years and demanded $20 million ransom.
Man in custody after hourslong standoff with police by Maplewood Mall

Man in custody after hourslong standoff with police by Maplewood Mall

It started with a stop over a warrant, but the suspect fled to a nearby parking lot.

Family, friends identify man shot to death in Crystal as 20-year-old

Authorities have identified a person of interest in the shooting but have not yet taken the person into custody, said Crystal Deputy Chief Brian Hubbard.

BCA identifies victims, suspect in deadly Nevis shooting

Bryce Bellomo killed two of his wife's sisters before dying by suicide.
U football player kicked off team after being charged with assaulting police officer

U football player kicked off team after being charged with assaulting police officer

Maxwell T. Janes, 19, reportedly punched a Minneapolis police officer in the face while intoxicated.
Officer, suspect exchange gunfire in Hubbard County, according to dispatch audio

Officer, suspect exchange gunfire in Hubbard County, according to dispatch audio

Details were slim late Thursday, but multiple law enforcement agencies, including the BCA, were involved in the incident.
New Corrections Commissioner Paul Schnell has made a point of visiting the prisons he oversees, such as the one in Stillwater he visited.

Openness, optimism are hallmarks of Minnesota's new corrections chief

Paul Schnell aims to make the state's prisons safer and saner.
During the polar vortex, Union Depot was transformed to help house around 100 homeless adults over three nights. But Friday, Ramsey County officials d

Homeless camp out at Ramsey County Sheriff's Office after Union Depot is closed to them

The move came after the Ramsey County Board questioned the depot's use.
Warden Eddie Miles, right, led Minnesota House members Rep. Jack Considine Jr., left, and Rep. Brad Tabke, center, out of Stillwater prison at the end

Minn. legislators go behind prison walls for a deeper look

The unprecedented legislative hearing at Stillwater prison comes as the Department of Corrections is reeling from the deadliest year in the agency's history.
Police say Leigh Elizabeth Meska, 31, of Goodview, Minn., went missing on Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019.

Southern Minnesota woman who went missing on way to work is found in Illinois

Leigh Meska, 31, turned up Thursday in Rockford, but authorities did not say how she got there.
A cyclist decked out in cold weather gear rode past the city skyline and a frozen Bde Maka Ska in Minneapolis.

Minnesota builds up bragging rights, looks to add more before epic weekend warm-up

For nearly seven consecutive days, the state was designated the chilliest in the Lower 48.
Minneapolis police Sgt. Grant Snyder, center, and Pastor John Steger, with Grace In The City Church, far left, gave out hats, scarves, gloves and hot

Minneapolis police join efforts to hand out cold weather gear to homeless

Minneapolis police join efforts to prevent homeless people from getting frostbite.
TB outbreak tied to Minnesota St., Mankato under investigation

TB outbreak tied to Minnesota St., Mankato under investigation

The infectious disease was found in eight people associated with the school, including mostly current and former students.
Valerie Castile, mother of Philando Castile, spoke in St. Paul in April.

January: Disproportionate traffic stops hit minorities hard, panelists in Minneapolis stress

Community forum in Minneapolis on racial profiling looks to address racial disparities.
St. Louis Park officials said an officer-involved shooting was under investigation Saturday night.

Man dead after officer-involved shooting at St. Louis Park apartments

Incident at Louisiana Court Apartments began as a call on a domestic dispute.
Minnetonka schools, Jewish community denounce photo of Nazi salute, sign

Minnetonka schools, Jewish community denounce photo of Nazi salute, sign

An image depicting two Minnetonka High School students spread on social media, prompting a note from the district.
Steve Denzine, who works at the federal prison in Sandstone, played with his children Stella, 6, and Robbie, 3. Anticipating the federal shutdown, he

Morale low, anxiety high among federal prison workers in Minn.

Hundreds of Federal Bureau of Prisons employees missed their first paycheck Friday, and union leaders say the families are being forced to hastily cut costs.
Tamar Brayson Long, 20

2 Fridley men charged in fatal shooting of 17-year-old

Travon Shug Wallace ditched the murder weapon with his cousin, who later bragged about the shooting, authorities say.
Jayme Closs, shown Saturday morning at her aunt's home in Barron, Wis.

For Jayme Closs, the healing process is just beginning

It's likely to be a long, difficult process, but one where healing is possible, mental health professionals and survivors of childhood trauma say.
Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald was high-fived early Friday in the lobby of the Holiday Inn Express in Rice Lake, Wis., by an investigator who

'This is Jayme Closs! Call 911!' Missing Wisconsin 13-year-old found alive

Three people east of Gordon, Wis., described the dramatic moments when the 13-year-old was found almost three months after she disappeared: dirty with matted hair and wearing shoes too big for her.
The A West cell house at Stillwater prison.

Stillwater prison wing on lockdown after inmate assaults officer

After several attacks, union representing corrections officers has demanded more safety funding.
Larry Klimek was a Metro Transit bus operator.

White Bear Township man killed by brother as he arrived at New Year's party, court records show

Authorities say a potential motive in the murder-suicide remains unclear.

81-year-old woman dies in Rice County crash

An 81-year-old southeastern Minnesota woman died in a rear-end crash Saturday morning in Rice County. Officers responded to the scene on Hwy. 19 near Sciota…
The vehicle involved in Friday night's crash in St. Paul that killed one pedestrian and seriously injured the other was towed away.

Pedestrian struck, killed by SUV identified as St. Paul woman

The other pedestrian hit, a 22-year-old woman, was taken to Regions Hospital and is expected to survive.
The area in Inver Grove Heights where a pedestrian was struck and killed Saturday, the latest in a string of deaths in the Twin Cities metro area.

Hit-and-run driver kills Inver Grove Heights woman

A deadly weekend for pedestrians results in four fatalities over 48-hour stretch.

Suspect in Roseville holdup identified after robber forgot to wear mask during heist

A St. Paul man suspected of robbing a Roseville dollar store on Christmas Eve was quickly identified after forgetting to put on his mask. Quincy…
The vehicle involved in Friday night's crash in St. Paul that killed one pedestrian and seriously injured the other was towed away.

One killed, one injured by SUV in St. Paul

Four people who were in the vehicle were cooperating with investigators.

Cromwell man, 88, dies in Pine County crash

An 88-year-old northern Minnesota man died Thursday evening in a rollover crash in Pine County, authorities said. Junior Milton Krippner of Cromwell was traveling south…
An investigator worked Thursday night on Larpenteur Avenue W. near Rice Street in Roseville, where two people were hit by a vehicle and killed.

2 people struck by vehicle, killed on St. Paul-Roseville border

The incident happened on Larpenteur Avenue W. just west of Rice Street during the evening rush hour.
Body camera footage of the mental health call in November was released by the Hennepin County Attorney's Office.

Mpls. officers won't be charged in shooting death during mental health call

In dramatic body camera footage, the officers beg Travis Jordan to put down the knife. "Let's do this," he says as he comes toward them.
Larry Klimek worked at Metro Transit.

Family grieves after apparent murder-suicide in White Bear Township

It's not clear what led to Tuesday's violence.
The area near where two men were found dead in a home after police responded to a report of shots fired.

2 brothers dead in apparent murder-suicide in White Bear Township

Apparent murder-suicide took place during a party, and people were fleeing as authorities arrived.

Minnesota man charged with murder in death of his wife's baby

Suspect blamed a seizure; autopsy found "blunt force homicidal violence."
Aaron H. Doer­ing

University of Minnesota professor charged with domestic assault

Aaron Doering allegedly choked his fiancé.

4 corrections officers injured in scuffle at St. Cloud prison

The offender was immediately placed in restrictive housing, while all four Department of Corrections employees were evaluated at a hospital and later released.
FILE -- Former Minneapolis Police Officer Mohamed Noor, middle, leaves the Hennepin County Public Safety Facility with his attorney, Thomas Plunkett,

Noor defense team wants to perform 'tests' on squad car

Attorneys for Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor want to examine the squad car from which he fired the fatal shot at Justine Ruszczyk Damond in…
If you want to avoid riding home in a squad car this New Year’s Eve, hop a bus instead. Steve Fletcher wants to make downtown fun again. The first-t

In an effort to curb drunken driving, Metro Transit to offer free rides on New Year's Eve

Buses, light rail — even some taxis — offer free rides to discourage drunken driving.
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.
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