Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker
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A 22-year-old Hastings man died last weekend after a trench collapse in Pierce County. The Pierce County Sheriff’s Office said 22-year-old Joseph T. Sanderson was airlifted Saturday, June 30, 2018, after the accident at N7155 690th St. in the town of Martell. Deputies said in a news release that Sanderson succumbed to his injuries later that day at Regions Hospital.
ELLSWORTH — The Prescott police officers fired by the city last year will not get their jobs back, a judge decided Tuesday. Buffalo-Pepin Circuit Court Judge James Duvall dismissed a lawsuit brought by former officers Bryan Massman and Ryan Most and denied motions from their attorney that sought to restore their jobs and provide them back-pay. The contract outlining the grievance process was ambiguous "at a minimum," the judge said, but concluded it was clear that, as probationary officers, they were not eligible for just-cause termination rights.
Two people from Minnesota were injured Sunday in a Pierce County crash that authorities said appeared to involve alcohol. Pierce County sheriff's deputies were alerted to the crash at 5:50 a.m. June 17 on Highway 35 in Diamond Bluff near County Road O. According to deputies, the vehicle, a 2003 Ford Expedition driven by 26-year-old Elk River resident Kyiyoo Vinson, crashed and overturned several times in a ditch.
A Hastings man blamed his gambling addiction on an embezzlement scheme that netted him $70,000 at a Prescott-area golf course, but a plea agreement struck Tuesday will allow him to repay that money while addressing his problems. Robert P. Magnuson pleaded guilty to one count of felony theft May 29 in Pierce County Circuit Court, a charge that will be dismissed if the 58-year-old abides the terms of an agreement.
The Red Wing man and Ellsworth woman sought in a western Wisconsin shooting case were arrested in Barron County, authorities announced Thursday. A post on the Barron County Sheriff’s Department Facebook page said the suspects, previously identified as Red Wing resident Shawn Goplen and Ellsworth resident Kari Blank, where taken into custody at the Rice Lake Dollar General store.
A Red Wing man and an Ellsworth woman were being sought by authorities Monday in connection with a western Wisconsin shooting. The Dunn County Sheriff’s Office said arrest warrants were issued for 34-year-old Shawn H. Goplen and 36-year-old Kari L. Blank. The sheriff’s office said Goplen and Blank were suspects in a shooting reported at 10:42 p.m. Sunday in Dunn County’s town of Tainter.
PRESCOTT -- The Prescott man arrested after a standoff this week was charged with three felonies Thursday by prosecutors, who allege he raped his victim at knifepoint before stabbing her later at his home. The Pierce County District Attorney’s office charged Jason J. Kulla, 45, with first-degree sexual assault, aggravated battery with the use of a dangerous weapon and strangulation and suffocation. He’s also charged with misdemeanor battery.
Reports of a stabbing led to a heightened police presence Tuesday in Prescott, where an hours-long standoff concluded just before 3 p.m. Pierce County scanner traffic indicated a woman on Flora Street reported being stabbed in the abdomen after 10 a.m. Scanner reports indicated she was taken by ambulance to a hospital. Minutes later, officers rushed to an Ash Street house believed to be connected to the incident. A man at the house was in negotiations with officers for nearly three hours, according to scanner reports.
ELLSWORTH — A Prescott man convicted of plunging a knife into a woman's neck was sentenced last week to prison. Pierce County Circuit Court Judge Joe Boles said even though the near-fatal assault Dennis A. Frank committed last year on the woman appeared out of character to those who knew him, the hints of premeditation and the phony story he told police dictated a prison term. The fake story, Boles said at the April 4 sentencing, was an attempt "to get him off the hook."
Authorities said it took a costume, a comment and a cast of accomplices to pull off a con that fleeced Walmart out of thousands of dollars at various stores in western Wisconsin and Minnesota. According to court documents, the main suspect would enter a Walmart clad in a former employee's vest, then approach a cashier, who would be told it was breaktime. From there, the suspect would open up the cash register to allow a string of accomplices to buy thousands of dollars in gift cards. And then, according to authorities, it was off to the next store.