Grace Pastoor covers crime, courts and social issues for the Bemidji Pioneer. Contact her at (218) 333-9796 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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EDITOR'S NOTE: This story was first published on Feb. 6, 2018. ST. PAUL — Nearly a year after the Bemidji community discovered that Brandon Bjerknes had engaged in sexual conversations with his students, his victims and their families continue to suffer. One girl is currently in a state mental hospital due to multiple suicide attempts. At least two more have had to make trips to the emergency room after cutting themselves. Some have been bullied by other students. Some can't trust boys or men.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This story was originally published on Nov. 22, 2017. DULUTH—A federal judge dismissed one count of second-degree murder in the case of a Red Lake man charged with the June slaying of a teenager. Joshua Francis Hill, 20, remains charged with murder in the first degree and discharge of a firearm during a crime of violence. Hill allegedly shot Alexander Andrew Cadwell, 17, at an abandoned residence in Red Lake following a dispute over a PlayStation.
BEMIDJI -- More than 60 people are gathered in downtown Bemidji in opposition of the recently approved Line 3 replacement project and the police have blocked off several streets. The dozens of activists gathered shortly before 12:30 p.m. and marched from the Rail River Folk School to the intersection of 3rd Street Northwest and Beltrami Avenue Northwest, where they stood in a square set off by four large banners in the middle of the intersection.
BEMIDJI—The actress portraying an agitated truck driver was not going to make things easy for Sgt. Shane Gustafson. As Gustafson tried to establish "Lucy's" mental state, the woman—played by actress Erin Roberts—went off on tangent after tangent: juice cleanses, big pharma and the evils of prescription medication.
BEMIDJI—More than 1,000 area residents lost power after overnight thunderstorms buffeted Beltrami County late Sunday and early Monday. Beltami County Emergency Management Director Chris Muller said that overnight thunderstorms hit the Bemidji area at about 11:30 p.m. and lasted until just after 2 a.m. Lightning struck near Irvine Avenue, Muller said, and hail hit downtown Bemidji.
BEMIDJI—In the first 7½ months of 2018, the Bemidji Fire Department responded to as many fire suppression calls as it typically sees in a year—and the cause of the uptick remains unclear. Fire Chief David Hoefer said that, as of Aug. 23, the BFD had responded to 103 fires. The department has, on average, seen about 100 fires per year for the past decade, Hoefer said.
BELTRAMI ISLAND STATE FOREST -- Gov. Mark Dayton has ordered the Minnesota National Guard to help in fighting a wildfire in the Beltrami Island State Forest. The 500-acre wildfire broke out Wednesday as the result of of a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources prescribed burn meant to help manage brushlands, according to a release from the governor’s office.
BEMIDJI—A Red Lake man charged with assault after a May shooting at the Elpine Village Mobile Home Park was sentenced Aug.14 to one year and one day in prison. David James Cook, Jr. pleaded guilty to third-degree assault causing substantial bodily harm in connection with the May 4 attack. Cook was initially charged, along with Luiz Javier Solis Delarosa, 23, of Walker, with second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon causing substantial bodily harm. An amended complaint charging Cook with the lesser offense was made public Aug. 16, two days after Cook's sentencing.
CLEARBROOK—Water service was not impacted after lightning struck Clearbrook's water tower Sunday morning. The 8 a.m. strike caused a fire in a room at the bottom of the tower, said Clearbrook City Clerk Lucie Thompson. Several area emergency agencies responded to the strike and fire. The fire burned pumps and insulation around pipes in the tower, but it did not affect the water quality, as the wells for city water are in a different location, City Maintenance Supervisor Jason Bakke said.
BEMIDJI—A former employee of an adult foster home was sentenced Monday to 180 days in jail for the assault of a home resident. Connor Michael Shea, 27, pleaded guilty July 3 to the assault. Shea was initially charged with third-degree assault after his Feb. 27 arrest, but an amended criminal complaint charging him with two counts of fourth-degree assault of a vulnerable adult was filed in July. Shea received two sentences Monday, one for each count of assault. The sentences must be served consecutively, meaning that he must serve them one after the other.