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Minnesota roundup: United Airlines starting service from Rochester to Chicago; Racist graffiti found in suburban high school restroom

ROCHESTER, Minn. — United Airlines will begin service June 8 out the Rochester International Airport. The airline will operate three daily flights to and from its hub at Chicago O'Hare International Airport.

"This service will provide 150 new departing seats per day, which is a capacity increase of 35 percent for our community" said John Reed, Rochester International's executive director.

The addition is being touted as a major step in the community's Destination Medical Center initiative.

United Airlines is the world's largest airline in terms of cities served, with flights to 360 cities on five continents, the company said. United Airlines is part of the Star Alliance, a network of 1,300 airports that serves 190 countries on six continents.


Racist graffiti found in suburban Minnesota high school restroom

LAKEVILLE, Minn.—Racist graffiti was found in a high school restroom in Lakeville on Monday.

The scrawled messages and symbols were found on toilet stalls in Lakeville South High School.

An announcement on the school's website said a student had been identified as the culprit and "will face disciplinary action."

The graffiti said, "Hail the Klu Klux Klan," and an obscene phrase including the n-word. It was accompanied by two Nazi swastikas.

The school's website said, "We take these matters seriously and strive to create a safe, welcoming environment for all students in our schools. Our maintenance staff has begun work to repair the damage and we will use this as a teachable moment where possible."


Finland man faces charges after shooting at neighbor, major manhunt

FINLAND, Minn.—A 61-year-old Finland man is expected to be charged with assault on Tuesday after allegedly firing a gun at a neighbor and then evading law enforcement for hours on a night when temperatures dropped to near zero.

Lake County Sheriff Carey G. Johnson said the search along Minnesota's North Shore ended when the man was found hiding beneath a tarp near his residence at about 1:44 a.m. Monday. The search began, Johnson said, when one of the man's neighbors called 911 at 12:39 p.m. Sunday to report the shooting incident.

It was unclear to the neighbor what the dispute was about, Johnson said, but the suspect was intoxicated at the time. No one was injured, the sheriff said.

Before officers arrived, the man had fled the area on a four-wheeler, Johnson said. They believed he still had a gun with him, and were concerned about the safety of others in the area.

"I ended up making contact by phone around 2 p.m. to determine where he was at. It took a while, but he finally admitted that we was at his home," Johnson said. "From there we were just trying to talk to him until we could get responding units up there and decide what we were going to do, because we was saying that he would absolutely not go to jail and that people were going to get hurt if we tried to take him to jail."


Ely police sergeant put on probation for sex with teen

ELY, Minn. - -A former Ely police sergeant will serve two years of supervised probation and must register as a predatory offender after admitting that he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl.

Jason Allen Carlson, 38, was sentenced Monday in State District Court in Virginia after pleading guilty last month to a gross misdemeanor count of misconduct of a public officer.

Carlson, who was described as an acquaintance of the victim's parents, admitted at a plea hearing that he carried out a relationship with the teen during late 2014 and early 2015.

Court documents indicate that he would occasionally bring the teen on ride-alongs and had regular contact with her, both on and off duty. He admitted to having sexual intercourse with the girl at a residence near Ely in December 2014, when she was 17.

Carlson, an 11-year veteran of the Ely Police Department, was placed on leave after the criminal charges were filed and resigned earlier this month after reaching a severance agreement with the city.

The age of consent in Minnesota is generally 16, but certain exceptions apply for those under 18. A St. Louis County grand jury in October 2015 indicted Carlson on a felony third-degree criminal sexual conduct charge, alleging that he was in a "position of authority" over the victim.


Man convicted of killing father faces second trial to determine mental illness

FERGUS FALLS, Minn. — A second trial will begin Tuesday morning, Feb. 28, for the man convicted of killing his father in his Fergus Falls home.

Dustin Defiel was found guilty of second-degree murder late Friday, Feb. 24.

Jurors found him innocent of first-degree murder because they did not believe the crime was premeditated.

The next phase of the trial will determine if Defiel was suffering from a mental illness at the time.

If that's the case, Defiel's conviction would change to "not guilty" by way of mental illness.

Defiel, who served in Iraq, has an extensive documented history of battling post-traumatic stress disorder.


Charges: Man kidnapped baby to try to get girlfriend back

WILLMAR, Minn. — A Willmar woman got out of the shower Thursday evening to find her 8-month-old daughter gone. So was her ex-boyfriend, Angel Esparza-Mendez, 23, and his vehicle.

The woman later told police that she called Esparza-Mendez frantically through the night, but he refused to give her daughter back unless she agreed to get back into a relationship with him, said court documents Monday providing more details on the case.

The child is not Esparza-Mendez's, police say. But he allegedly told the woman that if she talked to police, she would never see her baby again, that he would take the baby to Mexico.

Esparza-Mendez, also known as Pedro Lopez, was charged Monday in Kandiyohi County District Court with two felonies for kidnapping and fifth-degree drug possession.

The child was later found safe Friday at the home of a third party in Willmar.

Drug and Gang Task Force agents went to a DeGraff dairy farm where Esparza was said to work and arrested him around 5:30 p.m. Friday. They allegedly found 4.2 grams of meth in his jacket pocket.

Esparza-Mendez is currently being held in the Kandiyohi County Jail on $250,000 bail.