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Liz Sawyer

Reporter | Breaking news, crime and corrections
Phone: 612-673-4648

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
A tow truck removed a vehicle that Minneapolis police say was involved in a fatal shooting Saturday morning on the city’s North Side. A 19-year-old

One dead after shooting on North Side of Minneapolis

New Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O'Hara was on the scene of the shooting, which left a 19-year-old man dead.
Bishop Richard Howell Jr. presided as Brian O’Hara was sworn in as the new Minneapolis police chief surrounded by wife Wafiyyah O’Hara and son Bre

At Minneapolis welcome event, new Police Chief Brian O'Hara promises new chapter of cultural change in department

The multicultural event, filled with pomp and pageantry, marks a new chapter for an embattled Minneapolis Police Department still defined on the national stage by the murder of George Floyd.
New Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O’Hara took the oath of office from Minneapolis City Clerk Casey Clark as Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey looked on

O'Hara sworn in as Minneapolis police chief

In private ceremony at City Hall, O'Hara becomes first outsider in 16 years to lead MPD.
Brian O’Hara, left, walked with Mayor Jacob Frey after he was voted in as the new Minneapolis Police chief in the City Hall, Council chambers in Min

City Council confirms O'Hara as next Minneapolis police chief

The New Jersey native will be sworn in on Monday.
Deddtrease Edwards was 14 when she was sent out of state to a center for troubled youth because of a lack of beds in Minnesota. “My childhood was ro

Minnesota youth most in need of juvenile system help have nowhere to go

As youth detention centers close, Minnesota runs out of places to rehabilitate kids who commit serious crimes.
Brian O’Hara, who is likely to become the next Minneapolis police chief, appeared in front of the City Council on Wednesday.

Brian O'Hara step closer to being next Minneapolis police chief

If the City Council approves his selection next week, O'Hara will become the first outsider to lead the Minneapolis Police Department in 16 years.
Police tried to clear the freeway of protesters during the unrest following George Floyd’s death at the hands of police in May 2020.

Minneapolis to pay $700,000-plus to settle demonstrators' excessive force claims

The largest award was issued to a group of 12 who say they were targeted while protesting on I-35W in the immediate aftermath of George Floyd's murder.
A 700-pound bronze statue honoring George Floyd was given to the city of Newark, N.J., on in June 2021 as part of a public art program. Filmmaker Leon

In Newark, Mpls. chief nominee described as up to structural change

Brian O'Hara led the New Jersey city's police department through a federal consent decree.
Nominated by Mayor Jacob Frey to be the next Minneapolis police chief, Brian O’Hara participated in a community forum at the Capri Theater on Saturd

Would-be Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O'Hara introduces himself to community

Brian O'Hara is poised to become the first chief from outside the Minneapolis Police Department in 16 years.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and Brian O’Hara, his nominee for Minneapolis Police Department police chief, left after a news conference in Minneapol

Top pick for Minneapolis police chief is 'change-maker' from Newark

Mayor Jacob Frey has nominated Brian O'Hara, deputy mayor of Newark, N.J., to serve as the next police chief of Minneapolis. The City Council will now decide whether to approve or reject his nomination.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, left, and his nominee for Minneapolis Police Department police chief Brian O’Hara, currently the deputy mayor of Newar

What is next in search for new Minneapolis police chief?

The announcement Thursday marked the beginning of a weekslong process, at the end of which the City Council will decide whether to confirm or reject Mayor Jacob Frey's nominee.
Community members gathered Friday between Winner Gas and Merwin Liquors in north Minneapolis in an attempt to shut them down after a shooting nearby.

After overnight shootings in Minneapolis, community members want plan for peace

The spree of overnight shootings left two dead and seven injured Thursday night and early Friday.
Mayor Jacob Frey will nominate one final candidate, who must be approved by the City Council.

3 finalists outside MPD chosen for Minneapolis police chief

An outsider is expected to helm the Minneapolis Police Department for the first time since 2002.
Debra, left, and her cousin Arriell. Each girl experienced starkly different versions of Minnesota’s juvenile justice system.

Two cousins with diverging fates show promise, failure of youth rehabilitation in Minn.

Each day, Minnesota judges and prosecutors make life-altering decisions about children who break the law. Most kids end up entangled in the county court system, but some youth are offered an alternative, known as diversion. A child's future can hinge on the path that is chosen.
Police investigated a fatal shooting at the 5th and Nicollet Avenue light rail station in Minneapolis, Minn., on Tuesday.

Teenage boy killed at light rail station in downtown Minneapolis

A person of interest was in custody within an hour after the report of the shots fired, a police spokesman said.
Tina Wagner hugged her son Minneapolis police Sgt. Andrew Schroeder, who was honored with the department’s Medal of Valor Wednesday for pulling the

MPD honors officers with Medal of Valor, other honors at awards ceremony

Several dozen people, both sworn and civilian, were honored.
Blessings McLaurin-Grey

Family remembers girl, 6, killed in crash with car fleeing police in Brooklyn Center

Parents said Blessings McLaurin-Grey had overcome odds starting from birth.
Trinity Smith

Charges upped against Minneapolis man in shooting of 9-year-old girl

She was shot while jumping on a friend's trampoline.
Minneapolis police confront 911 caller Arabella Foss-Yarbrough in this still from body camera video in the fatal standoff with Andrew Tekle Sundberg.

Mpls. police release body camera video of Sundberg shooting

The video shows police rescue a mother and her young children, but it doesn't clearly show the final moments before snipers fired.
Andrew Tekle Sundberg

Family of man killed by Mpls. police calls for more details, release of body-cam video

Speaking publicly for the first time, Mark and Cindy Sundberg, who were called to the scene during the six-hour standoff with police, said family and friends are "beyond shocked and grieving."
Minneapolis police officers investigated the scene where witnesses said a man working on a window cleaning crew was shot in Minneapolis’s North Loop

Window washer shot while working near Minneapolis Federal Reserve

A 19-year-old man was rushed to the hospital with a gunshot wound after a downtown shooting Friday evening.
The city of Minneapolis has agreed to pay a veteran police officer $315,000 to settle claims that fellow officers repeatedly viewed her private driver

Minneapolis to pay police officer $315k over illegal license lookups

The case marks the final chapter of so-called 'snooping' lawsuits filed against the city after breaches of sensitive license data.
Interim Police Chief Amelia Huffman, seen on Dec. 7, 2021, said it’s important that the department’s field training officers are able to model “

Minneapolis police will tighten oversight of officer 'role models'

Field training officers under investigation for misconduct can now be removed from supervisory roles.
3-year-old shot, wounded in north Minneapolis; circumstances unclear

3-year-old shot, wounded in north Minneapolis; circumstances unclear

The incident marks at least the eighth child under 10 years old struck by gunfire in the city since last April.
St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell retires Wednesday after 33 years with the force.

Todd Axtell retiring today as St. Paul police chief: 'He's going to be missed'

Minnesota native, who spent 33 years in the St. Paul Police Department, is planning to launch a consulting group.
A crowd gathered near the scene of a fatal shooting in Robbinsdale on County Road 81 near Crystal Lake on Thursday.

Drive-by shooting leaves two dead in Robbinsdale

Police say no further danger to public; shooting incident was near busy public area.
The Minneapolis City Council agreed to pay $133,600 to former Minneapolis police officer Colleen Ryan, left, and $70,000 to former Deputy Chief Art Kn

Mpls. to pay $200K to settle complaints by former officers

Colleen Ryan alleged she was denied promotion because she's an openly gay woman, while former Deputy Chief Art Knight alleged his demotion was retaliatory.
In April, Minneapolis City Council Member LaTrisha Vetaw addressed participants at a community listening session she hosted to hear citizen concerns a

What do Mpls. residents want in next police chief? Integrity, public safety, accountability

Some want internal reform. Others say gun violence should be the top priority. They all agree that picking the next police chief is among the most important decisions Minneapolis will make in 2022.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and other city leaders held a news conference Wednesday on the Minnesota Department of Human Rights findings.

Frey calls rights report's findings 'repugnant, at times horrific'

The Minnesota Department of Human Rights investigation found the Police Department has violated the civil rights law, and multiple iterations of city leaders failed to hold officers accountable for misconduct.
Family turns grief into action after Brooklyn Park man's death

Family turns grief into action after Brooklyn Park man's death

Awwal Ladipo Foundation aims to honor his life through charitable works, college scholarships.
Relatives gathered in September for a funeral service for Marcoz, 14, one of two teens killed in a crash during a high-speed chase. His mother, Tanya

Minnesota's juvenile justice system failing youth, families, victims

A Star Tribune examination of hundreds of juvenile court records finds that the system is failing to effectively intervene in the lives of Minnesota's most troubled youth, often despite anguished pleas from parents.
Woman shot outside Minneapolis day care is MPD forensic scientist

Woman shot outside Minneapolis day care is MPD forensic scientist

The shooting is being investigated as a domestic assault, according to sources familiar with the incident.
Dallas-based Amir Locke was 22 and visiting friends and family in Minnesota when he was killed by Minneapolis police executing a no-knock warrant.

BCA releases file in Amir Locke death, including more video

Newly released body camera videos by state investigators show additional angles of the chaotic seconds before 22-year-old Amir Locke was shot and killed by a Minneapolis police officer during a predawn raid two months ago.
A woman and child relaxed next to a mural of Somaliland’s flag, in Hargeisa, Somaliland, a semi-autonomous breakaway region of Somalia, on Feb. 9, 2

Twin Cities Somali community raises funds after devastating Somaliland fire

A benefit dinner was being held in St. Paul on Saturday night.
Amir Locke shooting: A timeline

Amir Locke shooting: A timeline

A breakdown of what happened in the days, hours and seconds leading to Amir Locke's shooting
Amir Locke

Police cite officer safety to justify no-knock search, court filing says

The use of no-knock search warrants has been put on hold since police shot 22-year-old Amir Locke in a Minneapolis apartment.
A speaker addressed the crowd during National Solidarity Justice for Amir Locke on Tuesday night in Minneapolis,

Teen charged in homicide that prompted no-knock warrant, Locke's death

The teen, Amir Locke's cousin, had access to the apartment that police raided and where an officer shot Locke, according to the charges.
Aria Love held a Black Lives Matter sign during a car caravan through downtown Minneapolis on Friday night to protest the shooting death of Amir Locke

Mpls. police wanted 'no knock' warrant; city sets moratorium

St. Paul police applied for a standard search warrant for the predawn raid Wednesday that ended in the shooting death of Amir Locke, but were overruled by Minneapolis police, according to a source. The revelation came as city leaders announced a moratorium on all no-knock warrants pending a review.
Sophia Hope Yang, with mother Nou Vang.

Sophia Hope Yang enters world as first Twin Cities baby born in 2022

She weighed 7 pounds and measured 19.5 inches long.
St. Paul police seek assistance finding hit-and-run driver who fatally struck pedestrian

St. Paul police seek assistance finding hit-and-run driver who fatally struck pedestrian

My Ger Vang, 34, of St. Paul, died of her injuries at Regions Hospital on Monday night.
Sakaria Osman Ahmed

Burnsville man charged with murder in fatal shooting outside Eagan gas station

An altercation between two groups at the Marathon gas station Saturday culminated in the death of 33-year-old Faisal A. Abukar.
Zimmerman man sentenced to 3 years' probation for assaulting Minnesota state trooper

Zimmerman man sentenced to 3 years' probation for assaulting Minnesota state trooper

Matthew William Cleve, 39, pleaded guilty to attacking a state trooper who responded to his drunken driving crash in Brooklyn Center.
A stolen SUV sat in two pieces after it crashed on Dec. 9 in Minneapolis. The fatal crash followed a police pursuit of an SUV that was reportedly stol

Teen killed in northeast Minneapolis crash while fleeing police ID'd

Two died and three were seriously injured when the stolen vehicle they were riding in crashed following a police pursuit last week.
St. Louis Park Police released this photo last week of an attempted carjacking in the Lunds & Byerlys parking lot.

Two teens arrested in connection with St. Louis Park, Edina carjackings

Police are still searching for a third suspect related to the Dec. 9 attack outside a Lunds & Byerlys grocery store.
Minneapolis Chief Medaria Arradondo announces he will retire at the end of this term in mid-January.

Arradondo to retire; both Mpls., St. Paul looking for new police chiefs

Mayor Jacob Frey said he'll soon name an interim successor to Arradondo, who has served in the role since 2017.
St. Paul police investigated a homicide in July near the intersection of Western Avenue and Concordia Avenue West, one of the 35 so far recorded in th

St. Paul left reeling after hitting homicide record for city

The fatal stabbing left leaders with more questions than answers as the city tries to combat an increase in crime that is being mirrored across the country.
No arrests have been made in the fatal stabbing of a man in the 1700 block of East 7th Street in St. Paul, but investigators have identified a person

Fatal East Side stabbing sets new mark for St. Paul homicides in a year

No arrests have been made in the case, but investigators have identified a person of interest.
St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell visited the scene outside Seventh Street Truck Park on Monday, October 11, 2021.

St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell won't seek reappointment

Axtell has not said what's next for his career, or who he might endorse as his replacement.
:Tina Thomas, grandmother of a teen accused of assaulting an Uber driver in St. Paul, pointed to where he sometimes sleeps in her home. He was not cha

New push to divert youth from juvenile court in Ramsey County stirs controversy

New Ramsey County effort aims to rehabilitate teens, but sheriff says it lets dangerous youth go free.
Dakota County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Joe Leko.

Man's death under investigation near Northfield

Authorities responded to a 911 call about a burglary in progress on the 31500 block of Foliage Avenue in Greenvale Township.
Minnesota lawmakers could end routine shackling of children in court

Minnesota lawmakers could end routine shackling of children in court

The use of restraints on juveniles varies widely from county to county.
Paul Gorder

Minnesota Department of Corrections fires guard who drunkenly confronted protesters

Citing 'deeply disturbing' conduct, DOC terminates 26-year veteran.
Dylan Shakespeare Robinson

Brainerd man sentenced to 4 years for Minneapolis police station fire

Dylan Shakespeare Robinson pleaded guilty in December.
Sgt. Paul Gorder, seen inside Stillwater prison in May 2019, has been placed on investigatory leave after he was caught on camera confronting a group

Minn. corrections officer on leave after confronting BLM protesters

Protesters were outside the home of Washington County Attorney Pete Orput.
People were arrested outside the Brooklyn Center Police Department on Friday.

Law enforcement makes arrests at Brooklyn Center protest

Early Saturday, law enforcement leaders stressed that Friday's gathering was peaceful and legal until its last few minutes, and expressed disappointment that Thursday's strategy of backing off did not work.
People protested Wednesday near the Brooklyn Center Police Department in response to the fatal police shooting of Daunte Wright.

Fewer arrests, calmer scene on 4th night of Brooklyn Center protests

Twenty-four people were arrested, authorities said. Tear gas, which prompted strong complaints earlier, was not used Wednesday as hundreds were gathered outside the Brooklyn Center police station to protest the death of Daunte Wright.
Police used flash bombs and irritants at the Brooklyn Center police station after a rally Tuesday responding to the death of Daunte Wright.

Protesters, police clash for third night after Daunte Wright's death

An estimated 800 to 1,000 protesters were outside the Brooklyn Center Police Department. Dozens of officers in riot gear, along with National Guard, stood on the other side of a metal fence. As the crowd shouted and shook the fence, police began deploying flash-bang grenades.
Kimberly A. Potter, seen in 2007, was identified Monday, April 12, as the officer who fatally shot Daunte Wright, 20. on Sunday in Brooklyn Center.

Officer who fatally shot man in Brooklyn Center is 26-year veteran

She got her police license in 1995 at age 22, according to state records.
Daunte Wright

Daunte Wright is sixth person killed by Brooklyn Center police since 2012

Five of the six were men of color, according to a Star Tribune database of fatal encounters with police.
A Robbinsdale police car crashed Friday night near North Memorial Health Hospital.

Pursuit ends in police car crash in Robbinsdale

It happened near North Memorial Health Hospital. No one had suffered serious injuries, a Robbinsdale officer at the scene said.
Hennepin County Sheriff David Hutchinson and Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo discussed a joint effort on Dec. 15, 2020, involving helicopte

Mpls. residents demand transparency after police inflate carjacking charges

Fewer charges than claimed make south Mpls. residents question value, purpose of helicopters overhead.
Woman found dead in St. Paul home

Woman found dead in St. Paul home

Police responded to suspected overdose.
Second parent charged in death of abused 2-year-old St. Paul girl

Second parent charged in death of abused 2-year-old St. Paul girl

John Vang, 42, had a history of abusive behavior and kept the child locked in a closet for hours on end, charges say.
A security vehicle barred the entrance to the Allina Health clinic in Buffalo, Minn., where five people were shot Tuesday, killing one.

Health care shooting pushes clinics toward more vigilance, assessments

The shootings in Buffalo, Minn., are raising new concerns about how best to deal with irate patients vowing violence.
Derek Chauvin

Officers of color barred from guarding Chauvin sue Ramsey County

The officers allege discrimination and a hostile work environment.
LiHong “Linda” Burdick

LiHong 'Linda' Burdick, businesswoman and painter, dies of COVID-19 complications at 72.

LiHong "Linda" Burdick spun a rare talent into a successful business.For 30 years, the master seamstress operated Lotus Cleaners & Tailors in Eden Prairie, tending…
A mother and two children died after a shooting Saturday at a multiunit building in the 700 block of Jessie Street in St. Paul.

Boy ID'd shooter in St. Paul triple murder before he died, charges say

TeKeith Svyone Jones was charged with three counts of second-degree murder in connection with the deaths of his pregnant ex-girlfriend and her two children.
D’Zondria Wallace, 30, left. Ja’Corbie Wallace, 11, middle. La’Porsha Wallace, 14. (Courtesy of family)

Murder charges pending for suspect in St. Paul triple homicide

Relatives have identified the 26-year-old as the victim's ex-boyfriend.
D’Zondria Wallace, known affectionately to those closest to her as “Tweety,” had moved from Mississippi to Minnesota to start a new life.

Slain mother and two kids had hoped for a new start in St. Paul

St. Paul's SWAT team arrested a 26-year-old suspect Sunday night on the 2100 block of Wilson Avenue, where he'd been hiding in an apartment building.
St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell received his first dose of the Moderna vaccine Wednesday along with other members of his department.

St. Paul police receive their first doses of COVID-19 vaccine as distribution widens

Minneapolis police are scheduled to begin shots in coming weeks.
Law enforcement officers investigate the scene on Payne Ave. N. at North St. where a shooting left two people dead Thursday in St. Paul.    ]DAVID JOL

St. Paul police identify men killed in double shooting

The two, ages 21 and 39, both died later at Regions.
Law enforcement officers investigate the scene on Payne Avenue N. at North Street where a shooting left two people dead Thursday in St. Paul.

Two men fatally shot on St. Paul's East Side

Gunfire around 3:30 a.m. continued the spate of gun violence in the city.
An estimated 100 troopers flanked the sidewalks and stood on the State Capitol steps while rallygoers gathered in St. Paul on Saturday.

Pro-Trump Capitol rally in St. Paul yields low turnout amid heavy security

About a dozen supporters of President Donald Trump who gathered for a "Freedom Fest" rally at the Minnesota State Capitol Saturday were vastly outnumbered by law enforcement.
A shooting death in September had St. Paul police investigators on the East Side.

Amid pandemic, St. Paul reports 25% increase in violent crime

Record gun violence, May riots helped drive double-digit increases in all major crime categories last year except for rape and residential burglary.
Ciashia Lee

St. Paul police identify girl, 2, found dead in family home; parents jailed

Her parents were jailed on suspicion of murder; charges are pending.