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Minnesota roundup: Zoo's oldest tiger dies; Man shot by deputy was wearing bulletproof vest; 5 more state news stories

Molniy, the Minnesota Zoo’s oldest tiger, died Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016 due to chronic health issues from old age. He was 16 years old. Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Zoo.

APPLE VALLEY, Minn.—Molniy, the Minnesota Zoo's oldest tiger, died Sunday due to chronic health issues from old age, the Apple Valley zoo said Wednesday. He was 16 years old — or about 80 in human years — and one of the oldest tigers the zoo has ever had.

Molniy, an Amur tiger, came to the Minnesota Zoo in 2002 from the Detroit Zoo and "was a favorite among his zookeepers," said Northern Trail Curator Diana Weinhardt in a statement. The tiger was being treated for a variety of age-related conditions, including arthritis in his shoulders and hips.

It marks the second tiger death at the zoo this year. In May, 3-year-old Nadya died unexpectedly after falling ill.

The zoo currently cares for three other tigers: Sundari, who is 4 years old and Molniy's female offspring; Patrice, 4 years old; and Putin, 6 years old.

The Amur tiger, also known as the Siberian tiger, is the largest of all cats and one of six remaining tiger subspecies. It is a top predator of far eastern Asia.

Man was wearing bulletproof vest when he was shot by deputy after Iron Range chase

VIRGINIA, Minn.—A Tower man was wearing a bulletproof vest, armed with a handgun and carrying a bag of methamphetamine when he was shot by a St. Louis County Sheriff's Office deputy following a vehicle pursuit last week on the Iron Range, according to charges filed Tuesday.

Aaron Lee Boshey, 27, faces four felony charges in connection with the incident that started in Virginia and ended in the woods about six miles west of Eveleth after a 17-minute pursuit.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension reported that Boshey was shot during the incident by Deputy Tim Officer, a 19-year veteran of the sheriff's office. Boshey walked from the woods under his own power and was hospitalized before being booked into the St. Louis County Jail on Sunday.

The chase started after a Virginia police officer spotted Boshey, who had multiple felony warrants out for his arrest, at a gas station. He sped away from the station, fled to Mountain Iron and then fled on foot in a heavily wooded area near Eveleth.. At some point during the incident, Officer discharged his firearm, striking Boshey. He then walked from the woods and was taken into custody.

Rains, snow melt force unusual dam release into Minnesota River

WATSON, Minn. — Recent rains and high water levels have led the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to make the rare move this time of year of continuing to increase flows from Lac qui Parle Dam.

The dam is located on the Minnesota River in west central Minnesota near Watson.

The region received nearly an inch of rain over the weekend and that, coupled with snow melt, resulted in a significant increase of flows into the reservoir, necessitating the need to increase discharges through the dam, said a news release from the Corps' St. Paul District.

Flows were increased Tuesday to 2,500 cubic feet per second and then to 3,000 on Wednesday. Current inflows are at 3,000 cubic feet per second but are forecast to reach 4,500 or more by Friday. Normal November inflow is 350 cubic feet per second.

The Corps engineers discovered a sinkhole on the downstream dam embankment Oct. 28. While assessing the sinkhole, divers found scouring under the abutment wall footings and concrete dam apron. None of these issues are an imminent threat to the integrity of the dam.

While outflows from the dam will be increased, the lake elevation will increase also. The pool's current elevation is 933.6 feet, but is forecast to increase to 937 to 938 feet by the middle of December. Normal pool elevation for this time of year is 934 feet.

Bemidji State University student says she was sexually assaulted

BEMIDJI, Minn. —A Puposky, Minn., man was charged with third-degree criminal sexual conduct Wednesday after a woman said he picked her up from a Bemidji State University dorm, drove her to a remote location north of Lake Bemidji and sexually assaulted her.

Richard Leif Erickson, 20, has been held in the Beltrami County Jail since early morning Tuesday, according to the jail's inmate list. According to BSU officials, Erickson is not a student.

According to a complaint against Erickson, he arrived at Tamarack Hall early Monday evening, walked into a dorm room and asked a number of people if they "wanted to get high." Two people, including the victim, agreed to go with Erickson to his car, the complaint said. The other young woman decided not to go. The victim told officers she and Erickson drove around Bemidji and smoked "a great deal" of marijuana, and that Erickson gave her a drink. According to the complaint, after the victim had the drink she became disoriented, started to feel sick, had a difficult time staying awake and could not move.

According to the complaint, Erickson then drove the victim to the remote location and sexually assaulted her. The victim told police she did not consent and that she told Erickson to stop and that it was painful, but could not fight back. Later in the evening, the complaint said, the victim texted her friends to pick her up at the CVS in Bemidji. The victim's friends arrived at the CVS at about 11:15 p.m. and saw the victim stumble out of a vehicle driven by Erickson, who then allegedly sped away. The victim then told her friends Erickson had sexually assaulted her, and they drove her to the hospital.

Erickson is scheduled to appear in court Dec. 12.

Minneapolis man admits threatening to blow up mosque

MINNEAPOLIS—A Minneapolis man accused of threatening to blow up a local Islamic center in a letter last year pleaded guilty Wednesday.

Daniel George Fisher, 57, pleaded guilty to one count of obstructing the free exercise of religious beliefs, according to a news release issued by the U.S. attorney's office.

"Threatening to blow up a mosque is simply un-American," U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger said in the release. "It is a bedrock principle of our country, enshrined in the First Amendment to the Constitution, that all people are free to practice their religion of choice. Tens of thousands of law-abiding Muslims do so in Minnesota."

Fisher admitted to writing and sending an anonymous letter to the Tawfiq Islamic Center in Minneapolis in September 2015, threatening to "blow up your building with all you immigrants in it," court documents say.

Fisher said he was angry that the Islamic center, which serves the local Oromo Muslim community, was planning to build a new mosque three blocks from his home, according to charges filed against him in October.

The threats were traced back to Fisher using fingerprints found on the letter, and he admitted to FBI investigators that he mailed it in hopes of scaring the group into locating the new mosque elsewhere, charges say.

"America protects the free exercise of religion for all people in every community," Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta said in the news release. "Threats of violence that target religious communities violate federal law; corrode the ideals of our democracy; and threaten the foundation of an inclusive, free and open society. The Justice Department will continue to vigorously prosecute hate crimes that target people because of where they worship."

Neil Diamond celebrating 50 years with tour; concert planned in St. Paul

ST. PAUL—Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Neil Diamond will celebrate the 50th anniversary of his first hit with a world tour that stops by St. Paul's Xcel Energy Center on May 24.

Tickets are $149.50, $99.50, $59.50 and $39.50 and go on sale at noon Dec. 9 through Ticketmaster. American Express cardholders have access to a pre-sale that starts Monday.

There were no other concert dates set in the upper Midwest for his tour so far.

The 75-year-old Brooklyn native actually released his first single in 1963, but he found his initial success as a songwriter at the famed Brill Building, penning "I'm a Believer" and "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You" for the Monkees. In 1966, Diamond again tried his hand at a solo career and hit the charts with "Solitary Man" and "Cherry, Cherry

Many of Diamond's biggest hits followed, including "Red, Red Wine," "Sweet Caroline," "Holly Holy" and "I Am, I Said." He hit his first career peak in 1972, when his live album "Hot August Night" went double platinum, Diamond's biggest seller to date. It also established him as a must-see concert performer, and he continues to perform many of the "Hot August Night" songs.

This will be the seventh time Diamond has played the X. He drew a sold-out crowd of more than 13,000 on his most recent visit, in April 2015.

Faribault woman dies in crash with semi

FARIBAULT, Minn.—A 39-year-old Faribault woman died in a collision with a semi Tuesday afternoon in southeast Minnesota.

Marisa Bocanegra was a passenger in a van that had just pulled out into the intersection of Minnesota Highway 57 and County Road 11 in Goodhue County when it collided with the semi driven by Matthew Weis of Mantorville, Minn.

The female driver of the van, a 15-year-old girl, was seriously injured. The semi driver had no apparent injury.

The Mayo One emergency flight crew assisted at the scene.

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