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Minnesota roundup: Handgun permit holders increase by nearly 60 percent; shooting suspect arrested in far western Minnesota

WILLMAR, Minn.—There are now 265,728 valid permit-holders for handguns in Minnesota, an increase of 59 percent over 2105, according to a news release from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension report on Wednesday, March 1, said 71,156 permits were issued statewide in 2016, the highest number of permits issued in a single year since the current firearm laws were implemented in 2003.

That's up from 44,696 in 2015.


Minneapolis shooting suspect arrested in far western Minnesota

MOORHEAD, Minn. — A man wanted in connection with a shooting in the Twin Cities was arrested about noon Thursday, March 2, at a gas station in the far western Minnesota town of Barnesville.

The arrest came after area law enforcement agencies were informed by Twin Cities authorities that the suspect was believed to be in the Fargo-Moorhead area, Clay County Sheriff Bill Bergquist said.

A vehicle believed to be connected to the suspect was spotted Thursday morning, Bergquist said, and officers from law enforcement agencies placed the vehicle under surveillance because they did not want to start a chase. Officers moved in when the vehicle stopped at a gas station in Barnesville, he said.

Clay County deputies arrested Antavarius Scott Baker, 19, a passenger in the car, and took him to the Clay County Jail.

Baker faces a second-degree attempted murder charge or attempting to take the life of someone with intent but without premeditation, according to court records. A court complaint states that authorities were called to a Minneapolis apartment on Sunday, Feb. 26, regarding a shooting.

A man who was found with a bullet wound in his abdomen told police he was sleeping when someone shot him in the back and then ran from the room.

The victim's girlfriend told police her ex-boyfriend, identified in the court complaint as Baker, was responsible for the shooting.

The complaint said the victim suffered serious injuries and when officers spoke to him he was unable to move his legs.

Bergquist said it is believed Baker has ties to Fargo.


Fergus Falls man found not guilty of father's murder by mental deficiency

FERGUS FALLS, Minn.—An Otter Tail County District Court jury on Wednesday, March 1, found a Fergus Falls Iraq War veteran not guilty of second-degree murder of his father due to mental deficiency.

The verdict came in a second trial to determine Dustin Michael Defiel's mental health. In an initial trial last week, the same jury had found Defiel guilty of murdering his father, Rick Defiel, without premeditation on June 1.

The not guilty verdict means that Dustin Defiel, who was 29 at the time of the incident, is still found to have committed the crime but he cannot be held criminally responsible due to mental deficiencies caused by untreated mental illness.

Officers tracked down Dustin Defiel after the slaying at his parents' home with a firearm and dried blood on his hands, face and clothes and on the outside of the car, authorities said.

Judge Waldemar Senyk told Defiel that he would be transported to the Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter. He will be held until examined and until a proceeding for commitment begins.


Fire rebuilding funds OK'd

ST. PAUL—South central Madelia would get $1.4 million and Watonwan County $296,000 to help rebuild after a 2016 fire destroyed eight downtown businesses if a bill Minnesota state senators passed 55-12 Thursday, March 2, becomes law.

The bill unanimously passed the House last month.

Senators opposed to the bill said they objected to an unrelated section that delayed forming new wetlands when road construction eliminated existing wetlands. Opponents, however, said they support the Madelia help.

The Madelia aid was expected last year, but two bills containing the assistance never became law for other reasons.

Owners of the eight affected businesses "are very sincere about going back and committing to their community," Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Vernon Center, said.

"It is almost half of downtown" that burned, she said of the town near Mankato.


Mowing permits may be delayed

ST. PAUL—The Minnesota Department of Transportation should delay requiring permits to mow hay along state highways, state senators decided Thursday, March 2.

They voted 47-20 to force the department to wait a year to enforce its plan to make farmers obtain a permit before cutting grass in ditches. Instead, the bill requires the department to work with farmers to find a more acceptable way to regulate mowing.

"Some do not understand the permits," bill sponsor Sen. Gary Dahms, R-Redwood Falls, said about farmers.

Also, he said, many farmers have not heard about the need to obtain permits, which are supposed to be granted before ditches can be mowed this year.

A House bill that would ban the permitting process awaits a vote.


Nightclub faces fine, closed days after face-smacking contest

ST. PAUL—Smack Fest, a women's face-smacking contest, has come back to hit a popular St. Paul nightclub where it hurts most — the wallet.

Arnellia's has agreed to give up its liquor license for 10 days in late March. The penalty, negotiated with city officials, stems from a Nov. 4 altercation between two contestants that took place in the bar's parking lot following the all-female face-smacking contest known as Smack Fest.

A woman reported that she was violently assaulted by a fellow competitor and her friends.

St. Paul police say they requested surveillance video a few days after the assault and the bar was unable to provide it within the required 48 hours. City officials noted that the failure to provide video constituted the bar's third license violation in 18 months, which would normally incur a $2,000 penalty and a 10-day license suspension.

A settlement lowered the penalty to $500 and the bar was also allowed to pick the 10 days they would be closed, which will be the 10 days leading up to April 1.