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Posts about Public safety

Arrest warrant issued for former St. Paul principal now with Roseville

Posted by: Chao Xiong Updated: August 30, 2014 - 8:33 AM

Authorities have issued an arrest warrant for a Roseville Area Schools principal charged with failing to report the alleged sexual misconduct of a St. Paul Schools custodian when she worked for St. Paul.

Beth A. Behnke, 48, was charged on July 14 in Ramsey County District Court via summons, and ordered on Aug. 13 to turn herself into the Ramsey County jail for booking within 14 days. In cases such as Behnke's, defendants are photographed, booked into the county jail and then released the same day on their own recognizance.

Defendants are not kept in custody overnight in such cases.

The arrest warrant issued Thursday said Behnke failed to turn herself in by the deadline. Her attorney, Peter Wold, said Saturday that Behnke turned herself in on Monday, but the computer system was down and did not register it. He said he tried to reach authorities late Friday but was unable to.

Behnke is charged with one count of failing to report the maltreatment of a minor for not calling authorities about Walter J. Happel while she was principal at Linwood Monroe Arts Plus School in St. Paul during the 2011-2012 school year.

Behnke is currently principal at Falcon Heights Elementary School with Roseville Area Schools.

Craig A. Guidry, 52, was assistant principal at Linwood Monroe under Behnke, and faces the same charge involving Walter Happel. Jail records show that Guidry turned himself into authorities on Monday.

Guidry is currently assistant principal at Jackson Elementary School in St. Paul.

Wold represents both Behnke and Guidry.

Guidry and Behnke allegedly knew that longtime St. Paul custodian Walter Happel had a history of misconduct with young boys, including following one boy into the bathroom and exposing his genitals to the student. But they allegedly failed to report a 2012 incident in which Happel smacked another boy's buttocks, according to charges filed against them.

Minnesota law requires people such as educators and clergy, among others, to report suspected physical or sexual abuse within 24 hours of learning about the allegation.

Happel resigned from the district this year when an 11-year-old boy told school officials in February that the custodian peeked at him while he was using a bathroom stall. That investigation led authorities to charge Happel in a total of eight cases, six of them involving students at Linwood Monroe.

Charges allege that Happel peeked at students in the bathroom, spoke suggestively to students and pressed his penis onto one boy's buttocks, among other allegations. Two cases against Happel allege that he raped a family friend and a relative more than 30 years ago. 

Happel's cases are pending.

Family and friends of man assaulted in St. Paul give more details

Posted by: Nicole Norfleet Updated: August 26, 2014 - 6:58 PM

Bob Stach is looking for answers.

His cousin, Nicholas J. Keilen, 34, died over the weekend after he was beaten at a St. Paul pizza place in June, and Stach says he wants to see more progress on the case and the pizza joint closed.

"What I don't want to see happen is it just get forgotten," Stach said.

On Monday, St. Paul police announced they were investigating Keilen's death. Keilen was assaulted sometime between 10 p.m. June 5 and 1 a.m. June 6 in the 900 block of Arcade Street, according to a police news release. Keilen’s family notified police Monday that he had died.

Stach said he was told by other family members that the assault took place at Checkerboard Pizza located on the corner of Arcade Street and E. Jenks Avenue in St. Paul. On the night he was beaten, Keilen reportedly went home to his parents and his father suggested that he go to the hospital, but Keilen didn't go, Stach said. Whoever beat him up told him that if he went to the authorities, they would kill him, Stach said. Keilen went to bed and eventually ended up slipping into a coma, Stach said.

St. Paul police spokesman Howie Padilla didn't share any additional information about the case Tuesday.

Jake Patrin used to skateboard with Keilen when they both attended Harding High School when they were younger, he said.

Patrin described Keilen as a "relaxed guy" who liked hanging out with friends and joked around a lot. Keilen worked with his father finishing and installing hardwood floors, Patrin said.

"It was unexpected for sure," Patrin said, about Keilen's death.


Officers Ron Ryan Jr. and Tim Jones remembered

Posted by: Nicole Norfleet Updated: August 26, 2014 - 5:37 PM

If you drive up the hill too fast, you might miss it. The street signs attached to lampposts on a stretch of 6th Street in St. Paul's Dayton's Bluff neighborhood read "Ron Ryan Jr. Blvd."

The street was dedicated in 1999 to the memory of Officer Ron Ryan Jr. who was shot and killed 20 years ago on Aug. 26, 1994, after he responded to a report of someone sleeping in a car in a church parking lot. Officer Tim Jones and his K-9 dog Laser were shot and killed later that same day by the man who shot Ryan as they searched for Ryan's killer. On Tuesday, the 20th anniversary of the killings, the two officers were honored in two ceremonies in St. Paul.

"It always makes you feel good that people still remember," Ron Ryan Sr. said about his son.

Ron Ryan Sr. and his wife, Kelly, attended a special mass at Sacred Heart Church to remember their son and Jones. Ron Ryan Jr. was shot in the church's parking lot 20 years ago.

Pastor Eugene Michel told those in attendance that the service was to reflect on "the tragedy that occurred here on this property."

"We believe that Tim and Ron are with God," Michel said.

Kelly Ryan hugged people as they entered the sanctuary. About 100 friends, family and other officers attended the mass. Among them were several current and past St. Paul police personnel such as Metro Transit Police Chief and former St. Paul Police Chief John Harrington.

"For me, it's important to be here to remember," Harrington said.

Officer Kevin Clarkin, who grew up on St. Paul's East Side, said he remembers when the shootings happened. Clarkin, who had yet to join the department, said he was out washing his car when he saw helicopters fly overhead. It wasn't until he turned on his TV that he found out what happened.

"It's hard to believe it's been 20 years," said Clarkin, who made it to the mass on his day off.

Later in the morning, at the St. Paul police headquarters, officers and family along with other guests such as St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and retired St. Paul Police Chief Bill Finney gathered for a brief ceremony to honor the officers.

"Twenty years ago was one of the darkest days in the history of the City of St. Paul," said current St. Paul Police Chief Tom Smith. "I don't think anybody would argue that fact. It was a day that we lost two of our own."

Ron Ryan Sr. said that Tuesday was going to be a long day for him and his family. Sometimes it feels like his son has been gone "forever." Sometimes, it feels "like yesterday," he said.

To this day, the Ryans still get mail from people offering condolences. Besides making a visit to his son's grave, Ryan said there will also be a gathering Tuesday to remember his son.


January fatal shooting sparks ongoing violence

Posted by: Chao Xiong Updated: August 26, 2014 - 11:45 AM
Timothy A. Langevin

Timothy A. Langevin (pictured above)


Michael Trevino

Michael Trevino (pictured above)

Two days before a judge convicted Antonio R. Seals of manslaughter in the fatal shooting of Devonte R. Coppage, two young men allegedly tried to take justice into their own hands, shooting at someone they believed was related to Seals.

The Aug. 16 incident began at the very same BP gas station in St. Paul, 1200 White Bear Av., where Seals fired multiple shots at Coppage during a drug deal on Jan. 3.

No one was injured in the most recent attack, although two young children and a woman were in the car with the male target believed to be a Seals relative. The suspects allegedly pursued the victim's car at a high rate of speed through the streets of St. Paul, allegedly firing shots into the car's bumper and one tire.

Sgt. Paul Paulos, a police spokesman, confirmed that the August incident was related to Antonio Seals' family. The relationship between the suspects and Coppage is unclear, he said.

Eye-for-an-eye justice is not unheard of in St. Paul and the Twin Cities, where authorities know that one killing sometimes sparks another killing or violent assaults that can send shockwaves years after the initial incident. Paulos said that retaliation used to take the form of fist fights, but has become more violent and deadly.

"In the old days, [retaliation] wasn't done as severe as it is today," Paulos said. "Today, with the use of firearms, they believe an eye for an eye. People seem to think that death is the settling agent when, in reality, it's not."

It's unclear whether the male target in the shooting is related to Seals, but Paulos said that family members and friends are often caught in the middle of these violent disputes.

"Retaliation takes place quite often ... and they bring in family members or friends to make the score even," Paulos said.

The shooting also underscored the unusual security measures enforced at the Ramsey County courthouse in July while Seals was tried before Judge George Stephenson.

Although all courthouse guests must enter through a metal detector, they were also made to remove their shoes and belts throughout Seals' bench trial. Extra sheriff's deputies and police officers were on hand throughout the trial, and the Seals and Coppage families were carefully separated on different floors. Their departure from the courtroom and that floor were carefully timed and communicated between law enforcement officials. (Seals was out on bail.)

At one point in the July trial, Stephenson sternly addressed both families.

"There has been some friction between the families involved, and some of that has spilled into the courthouse," Stephenson said. "That's not how I play here.

"The is serious business. We're not playing around here."

Authorities were successful in tamping down the powder keg that apparently blew up shortly before midnight on Aug. 16.

According to charges filed last week in Ramsey County District Court: The suspects in the shooting, Timothy A. Langevin and Michael Trevino, were entering the gas station when another man was exiting.

The woman who was driving the man said that two suspects argued with him at the gas station, asking him, "Are you related to the Seals?"

The man returned to the woman's car, and the suspects chased them, fired at the car and turned off on a side road, the complaint said.

The shots were fired in the 1800 block of Ames Avenue, the complaint said. Officers found a dozen .45 caliber shell casings in the area. Witnesses described the suspect vehicle, which matched a car registered to Langevin. Witnesses also described the driver, which matched Langevin, the charges said.

Officers had been at the gas station earlier and saw the suspect car about 11:47 p.m. They ran the plates and found that it was registered to Langevin, whose license was revoked. Officers were unable to stop it before it left the parking lot.

Police were on their way to Langevin's home when they saw the suspect car and conducted a felony stop. Langevin exited the front passenger side. Trevino exited with the car keys in his hand. A 17-year-old boy was also with the men. All three were arrested.

Officers at the scene saw a handgun magazine on the passenger side floorboard and a Heckler and Koch .45 caliber handgun in the door panel compartment, the complaint said.

"Langevin said he was with Trevino and [the 17-year-old] who had words with some people," the complaint said.

Langevin told police that it was the 17-year-old who told Langevin to chase the man's car, the charges said. Langevin also said the teenager grabbed Langevin's gun and fired at the other car in a gang retaliation.

Authorities allege that it was Langevin who pulled the trigger.

Trevino told police he could not recall arguing with anyone at the gas station, and that he was driving the car while drunk, according to the complaint.

"Trevino said he was driving when shots rang out, but he crouched down instead of looking for the source of gunfire," the complaint said. "Trevino denied he ever saw a gun. When asked if he was sorry, Trevino replied, 'Sorry for what?' "

Langevin is charged with one count of drive-by discharge of a firearm. Trevino is charged with one count of aiding an offender. Trevino was also cited for drunken driving.

On Aug. 18, two days after the shooting, Stephenson found Seals, 19, guilty of second-degree manslaughter for killing Coppage, 22.

Coppage was grazed and shot four times, including once in the heart. He had met with Seals and two other men at the BP gas station to buy $300 worth of marijuana. Seals' attorney, John Riemer, said at trial that Coppage pulled out a gun in an attempted robbery, and that Seals fired at him in self-defense.

Man in construction outfit robs Highland Park bank

Posted by: Nicole Norfleet Updated: August 22, 2014 - 3:28 PM

A mask and all-black attire is the typical wardrobe for a bank robber, but the FBI is on the hunt for a man who robbed a St. Paul bank Thursday all the while looking like he had just come from a construction site.

About 9 a.m. Thursday, a man walked into the US Bank, located at 711 Cleveland Ave. S. in Highland Park, and demanded money from the the teller saying he had a gun. The robber was wearing dark clothing, white sneakers, a yellow construction vest, a yellow hard hat, and sunglasses. After receiving the money and putting it into a shoulder bag, the man fled on foot.

The robber reportedly stole about $2,000, said St. Paul police spokesman Sgt. Paul Paulos.

Anyone with information regarding the incident should contact the Minneapolis FBI at 763-569-8000, the St. Paul Police Department, or Crime Stoppers.  A reward is offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the bank robber.

Nobody had been arrested in the case as of Friday morning, said a FBI spokesman.


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