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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
Nickey Robo stood on the roof of her vehicle, joined other activists who stayed mostly in their cars for social distancing, as the lined Summit Ave, h

Minnesota correctional facilities see first coronavirus cases

An inmate at Moose Lake prison and a corrections officer at the Red Wing juvenile facility each tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend, marking…
Five St. Paul police officers were fired after allegedly failing to stop an assault by a former St. Paul officer, Tou Cha, at Checkerbar Food & Liquor

Arbitrator upholds firing of St. Paul officer who stood by during assault

Nate Smith was among five officers dismissed last summer.
A Metro Transit police officer wore a protective N95 mask on his head as he and other officer answered a call Saturday on Nicollet Mall.

Amid spreading virus, Minnesota's first responders try to keep themselves safe

Firefighters, paramedics and police are particularly vulnerable.
Chief Justice Lorie Skjerven Gildea.

Minnesota Department of Corrections seeks to stop in-person hearings for inmates

Some judges "have insisted" that inmates appear in court, instead of with remote hearings, the agency said.
Tony J. Davidson

Charges: Chicago man shoots partygoer at Oakdale hotel, asks girlfriend to hide the gun

Both men are expected to survive.
Under recommendation from county attorneys, local law enforcement officials are focusing their energy on detaining violent individuals who represent a

Low-level jail bookings, court hearings and fines suspended to avoid spread of virus

Public defenders are also rallying to release nonviolent inmates

State Public Defender pushes for release of jail inmates because of coronavirus

The State Public Defender’s Office is rallying its staff to demand the release of jail inmates across Minnesota to protect them from the spread of…

Federal courts suspend all trials; Minnesota state courts limit some

The federal court system in Minnesota has suspended all jury trials for civil and criminal cases, effective immediately through late April in response to the novel coronavirus.
Minnesota Corrections Commissioner Paul Schnell

Minnesota corrections officials halt prison visitors, volunteers

Corrections officials strive to avoid infection in the contained environments.
The suspect lived in Union Flats, a St. Anthony Park apartment complex, with her two children.

St. Paul mother 'snapped' before throwing son off 4th-floor balcony, charges say

The 11-year-old autistic child was seriously injured, but doctors expect him to survive.
The suspect lived in Union Flats, a St. Anthony Park apartment complex, with her two children.

Charges: St. Paul mother accused of throwing 11-year-old son over balcony punched, spit on officers

Additional charges are expected Wednesday.
The suspect lived in Union Flats, a St. Anthony Park apartment complex, with her two children.

St. Paul woman arrested after allegedly throwing son off 4th-floor balcony

The boy was conscious when officers arrived but suffered traumatic injuries. The 33-year-old mother is awaiting charges of aggravated assault and malicious punishment of a child.
St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell

St. Paul police chief reverses policy to allow officers to grow beards

Although Todd Axtell previously opposed the idea of police beards, rank-and-file staff requesting the change persuaded him to reconsider.
St. Paul resident Dick Kelly mounted video cameras both inside and outside his home for peace of mind. Last year, the cameras caught an unknown man wi

Are smart home surveillance systems a new neighborhood watch?

Network of smart homes helps police crack cases but raises privacy issues.
Two of the four officers fired in the aftermath of a Shakopee inmate’s sexual assault allegations have regained their jobs.

Fired officer at Shakopee women's prison reinstated after bribe allegation

He was one of two officers to get their jobs back at Shakopee.
A woman was found lying in the street in Inver Grove Heights, police said.

Pedestrian seriously injured after being struck by driver in Inver Grove Heights

Officers found a 40-year-old woman lying in the street at the intersection of Broderick and Concord boulevards, just off Hwy. 55, police said.
Members of the St. Paul Police Department’s gang unit, including Sgt. Shawn Campbell, left, and officer Colby Bragg, right, returned to their cars a

As Twin Cities gangs splinter, rules change, challenging cops

The evolution has forced law enforcement to rethink its strategies on tackling gang activity — the primary driver of gun violence in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Maplewood business owner charged with molesting children who took classes in his store

Akeem Lamina repeatedly touched the 7-year-olds in his office, charges say.
Victor Rodriquez, 25, who overcame serious socioeconomic obstacles and a troubled youth to join St. Paul’s Law Enforcement Career Path Academy, beco

St. Paul police cadets class is most diverse ever

An innovative program helps recruits overcome roadblocks to success.

Boy, 14, arrested in shooting of girl, also 14, outside St. Paul liquor store

The 14-year-old victim was shot in the abdomen and remains in stable condition at Regions Hospital

Two St. Paul teens hospitalized from separate shooting cases

The girls, 14 and 15, are each in stable condition at Regions.

St. Paul police investigate Sunday string of armed street robberies

The robberies occurred over a 3-hour stretch, police said.
Charges: St. Paul marijuana dealer, 18, killed 42-year-old client after being robbed

Charges: St. Paul marijuana dealer, 18, killed 42-year-old client after being robbed

Darrion Isaiah Gresham remains jailed in lieu of $1 million bail.
The Church of Scientology Twin Cities in St. Paul, shown in 2011.

St. Paul police identify man who collapsed, died after trying to rob Church of Scientology employee

Andre L. Peterson, 52, has a long history of aggravated robbery and theft convictions.
A man was shot several times during an apparent attempted robbery Thursday night near Como and Van Buren avenues in St. Paul.

Man in car shot, critically wounded in St. Paul

Victim was shot in his car by two armed suspects, according to scanner audio.
St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter, left, and Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher shared opposing views at Wednesday's meeting on installing ShotSpotter tech

Black pastors push for answers to record-breaking gun violence in St. Paul

Officials, police join clergy at community forum to address the "public health crisis."
The Church of Scientology Twin Cities in downtown St. Paul, shown in 2011.

Police: Man who died in downtown St. Paul tried to rob Church of Scientology employee

His cause of death remains unknown, police said.
Charges: St. Paul man fatally beat cousin who intervened in facial tattoo argument

Charges: St. Paul man fatally beat cousin who intervened in facial tattoo argument

Cornella Roybal intervened in an argument during a party, charges say.

Charges: Man kicked, severely injured 3-year-old for interfering with video game

Calvin Gillmore stands charged with two felonies in connection with the attack.
St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell has sought more resources from City Hill to keep up with service calls.

St. Paul Police staffing report calls for 103 more officers, staff

Growing caseloads, 911 calls straining resources.
Carl Dobbs Jr.

Charges: Minneapolis man acted as getaway driver in New Year's Day murder

A second man has been charged in the New Year's Day killing of Carl Dobbs Jr., who was shot in his car outside Johnny Baby's…
Jennifer Schroeder, a St. Paul woman who rebounded from her own addiction to become a licensed drug and alcohol counselor seen at her home Friday, Feb

Why are felons stripped of voting rights, and what other rights do they lose?

Minnesota passed disenfranchisement of felons with statehood in 1858, but the practice didn't become commonplace nationally until after the Civil War — when newly emancipated African-Americans gained the right to vote.
Cathryn Middlebrook, chief appellate public defender, spoke with Corrections Commissioner Paul Schnell during a meeting of the Minnesota Sentencing Gu

Minn. sentencing panel votes to cap felony probation at 5 years

The Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission passed a measure that would, in most circumstances, limit felony probation terms for all felons, except for individuals convicted of homicides or sex offenses. Unless the Legislature overrules the decision, the new guidelines take effect Aug. 1.
St. Paul police investigated a fatal shooting in a car on Wayzata St. just east of Rice St. in November.

Violent crime dropped in St. Paul last year, despite record gun deaths

A Star Tribune analysis of newly released police data shows that while homicides soared in 2019, reports of aggravated assaults, rapes and robberies decreased, contributing to a reduction in overall violent crime.

Girl, 13, charged with felony assault after St. Paul charter school stabbing

Authorities say she used a folding knife to carry out the attack.
Monique Baugh

Search warrant: North Minneapolis woman apparently abducted, bound before killing

A suspect arrested in Monique Baugh's killing is allegedly a "rival" drug dealer to her boyfriend, court documents said.
David Lee

Charges: Argument at Minneapolis bar led to fatal St. Paul shooting

David Lee was described as a hard-working family man.
Candles burned in the snow near the spot where a St. Paul man was fatally shot early Wednesday.

Fatal stabbing in Mpls., shooting in St. Paul on New Year's Day

One man is dead and another injured after a stabbing early Wednesday in north Minneapolis, police said. And in St. Paul, police are investigating a shooting death that occurred about 2 a.m. Wednesday on University Avenue.
Chee Kong Yang

Charges: Mpls. man gunned down while leaving work at St. Paul food distributor

Minneapolis man was gunned down after work at Asian food distributor.
Stillwater inmate Ron Greer, serving a life sentence for murder, works and attends school simultaneously.

College at Prison pilot program expected to launch next fall

Program to launch in fall will offer a variety of bachelor's degrees.
Davin McCray

Burnsville man charged with firing shots into Shadey's Bar in St. Paul

The suspect was arrested after crashing his car into another vehicle.
A memorial grew for the victim of a fatal shooting Thursday evening in St. Paul.

St. Paul police arrest suspect in fatal shooting near downtown airport

The 28-year-old man was arrested Thursday night after he crashed his vehicle into the fence line of Oakland Cemetery,
Demetria Carter, 64, a felon who served 79 days in a county work house and was on probation for 10 years, got emotional while testifying before the co

Speakers make the case for capping Minnesota's felony probation at 5 years

Nearly 30 people gave emotional testimony in support of a measure they believe will provide more fair, empathetic treatment.
Anthony Martin

Man arrested in Dallas, charged with murder in fatal November St. Paul shooting

Anthony Martin died of a gunshot wound to the chest.
Da’Qwan Jones-Morris

Teen pleads guilty in friend's accidental shooting in St. Paul

Da'Qwan Jones-Morris was killed as his friends played with a stolen gun.
John Robert Capers, 65, is charged second-degree murder in connection with the 1992 death of Annette Seymour.

DNA evidence leads to charges in woman's 1992 St. Paul stabbing death

John Robert Capers is suspected of killing Annette Seymour.
Maj. Nathan Burr and Lt. Col. Brandi Degier, who both knew the three soldiers, comforted each other before Saturday’s news conference about the cras

Grief over 3 Minnesota soldiers lost in copter crash goes worldwide

Hundreds paid tribute Saturday to three Minnesota National Guard members who died when their Black Hawk helicopter crashed this week in a snowy Stearns County farm field.
St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter and Police Chief Todd Axtell at a news conference in St. Paul in September.

ACLU lawsuit: City of St. Paul improperly withholding police data

The lawsuit said police "unlawfully refused" to provide public information.
Kjersten Schladetzky, with sons William, 11, and Nelson, 8.

Man who fatally shot sons, ex-wife in Mpls. left suicide note

Hennepin County court records and autopsies reveal new details about the triple-murder suicide that's shaken many.
Police say drunken driver caused crash that injured 4 in Coon Rapids

Police say drunken driver caused crash that injured 4 in Coon Rapids

Two young children were among the injured.
A Twitter spokeswoman told media outlets that Danielle Stella’s personal and campaign accounts were shut down for “repeated violations” of the s

Twitter bans Rep. Ilhan Omar's challenger over hanging comment

A Twitter spokeswoman told media outlets that Danielle Stella's personal and campaign accounts were shut down for "repeated violations" of the social media platform's rules.

Woman dies in Minneapolis shooting; man under arrest

Police said the shooting appears to be related to domestic violence.
Teenage girl stabs man who attacked her on Metro Transit bus in South St. Paul

Teenage girl stabs man who attacked her on Metro Transit bus in South St. Paul

A motive remains unclear in the Tuesday night incident.

Charges: St. Paul man shot himself by accident during police chase

The man suffered a gunshot in the stomach.

Teen boy charged with assaulting Andover High student, threatening teachers

It's not known what provoked Monday's attack.
The pilot of this plane was able to walk away without any injuries after crashing into power lines in Louisville Township, Scott County Sheriff Luke H

Shakopee pilot crashes into high-voltage power lines, escapes without injury

Xcel Energy crews worked to extract the plane.
This undated photo provided by officials in Buffalo Grove Ill,. shows Anatoliy Ermak. Police in the Chicago suburb had been searching for the 64-year-

Man suspected in Illinois double murder shoots himself in standoff with Edina police

Anatoliy Ermak remained in critical condition on Saturday.
Man shot in St. Paul's West Frogtown neighborhood

Man shot in St. Paul's West Frogtown neighborhood

He suffered noncritical injuries.

Two Minneapolis firefighters slightly injured battling Lowry Hill fire

A civilian was also hospitalized after their vehicle collided with a firetruck heading to the scene.
Officer Heidi Eisenbeis watched video evidence in Minneapolis. St. Paul’s police chief wants ShotSpotter technology, but the mayor has doubts.

As gunfire continues in St. Paul, so does ShotSpotter debate

In St. Paul, leaders debate whether ShotSpotter technology is a useful tool or an unproven sales pitch.
Water Gremlin employees made their way into the lot as its doors reopened for production earlier this month in White Bear Township.

Judge orders Water Gremlin to finalize cleanup plans

Judge Leonardo Castro ruled that the company must begin immediate remediation plans to clean up lead contamination in employees' vehicles, test their homes for lead and carry out abatement if needed.
The secondary checkpoint offers some relief at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, where long lines were seen last month no matter whether peo

MSP Airport reopens security checkpoint between hotel, Terminal 1

Airport leaders brokered a deal with TSA ahead of the busy Thanksgiving travel season.
St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter and Police Chief Todd Axtell at a news conference in St. Paul in September.

Mayor Carter, Chief Axtell split on approach to gun violence

The mayor outlined a wide-ranging proposal that would use a "community-first" approach to confront what he calls a public health crisis. Police Chief Todd Axtell did not attend the presentation.
St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter

As homicides surge, St. Paul mayor to ask for $1M more for public safety

The mayor will give a budget presentation to the City Council on Wednesday.
St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter, top, listened in on small groups of community listening circles earlier this month.

Residents say connections, honest conversations can help St. Paul curb violence

At final forum on curbing violence, painful conversations are acknowledged as productive.
Police investigate the scene of a triple shooting near the corner of North Ilion Avenue and North Hillside Avenue in Minneapolis, Minn., on Friday, No

3 wounded in drive-by shooting in north Minneapolis

One is in critical condition, while the other two suffered noncritical wounds, police said.
Isaac Harris, of Inver Grove Heights, packed up his SuperShuttle van trunk with a rider’s luggage at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport

SuperShuttle to end service at Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport

The blue vans will stop running on Saturday. Employees say they were given 11 days' written notice.
Jeriko Dejvaun Boykin Jr., 4, kissed his grandmother Catherine Harris at a listening session Tuesday about the violence in St. Paul. Jeriko Jr. was in

Packed St. Paul forum questions why deadly violence persists

Mayor Melvin Carter told the overflow crowd that a new strategy is needed.
Man in custody after shooting, car crash in north Minneapolis

Man in custody after shooting, car crash in north Minneapolis

A man found with a gunshot wound after the crash was in critical condition.
Leroy Davis-Miles

Minneapolis man charged in brutal attack on 75-year-old bus passenger

The victim suffered a critical brain injury and is not suspected to survive.

Blaine man charged in shooting at St. Paul gas station

The suspect, who is charged with firing at an occupied car, was subsequently shot and wounded by a U.S. marshal.
“What I hear you tell me is that we need a new approach,” St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter told an overflow crowd Thursday night at a community forum

Frustration strong at St. Paul listening session on gun violence

Mayor Melvin Carter acknowledged the range of emotions facing a community plagued by gun violence just one day after the city tallied its 29th homicide — the highest number in 25 years.
St. Paul police investigated a shooting on E. Annapolis Street on the city’s West Side. Neighbors said the shooting involved juveniles.

Shootings in St. Paul: Teen dead in one, marshal fires in other

The fresh shootings came even as the city's police chief had sought to reassure residents that his department is doing everything it can to quell the violence.
A police officer pulled tape across the street where a male suspect died Monday in Cottage Grove.

Minnesota BCA: Crime-spree suspect killed himself in Cottage Grove

An autopsy by the Ramsey County Medical Examiner's Office determined that Noah Erickson, 34, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
St. Paul police investigators were on the scene of a multiple shooting with at least one dead Saturday night near the intersection of Maryland Ave. E

At least one dead after two shot on St. Paul's East Side

The death is the fourth homicide of the week in a city struggling with gang violence.