September 17 news

WORTHINGTON – President Barack Obama directed Monday that flags be lowered to half-staff to pay tribute to the victims of "the senseless acts of violence" perpetrated at the Washington Navy Yard. Obama ordered that flags stay at half-staff until Friday at sunset.

A former Navy man launched an attack Monday morning inside a building at the Washington Navy Yard, spraying gunfire on office workers in the cafeteria and in the hallway at the heavily secured installation, authorities said. Thirteen people were killed, including the gunman. He was identified as 34-year-old Aaron Alexis of Texas. He died after a running gunbattle with police, investigators said.
WORTHINGTON – Five women and eight men make up the jury that will ultimately decide the fate of Josue Fraga, who is charged with first-degree murder in the death of his 2-year-old niece Samantha.

Testimony began Monday after more than four days of jury selection. This is Fraga’s second appearance on the charge of murder, the first having been vacated after new evidence was discovered. During the first trial, Fraga was convicted of all charges and sentenced to life in prison without parole.

The first morning of the trial was taken up with opening statements from the state and the defense as they laid out their strategies. As Minnesota Assistant Attorney General Bill Klumpp said would happen, the defense strategy is based on blaming Samantha’s death on Fraga’s eldest son, who was 13 years old at the time of the murder. Klumpp said he intends to show that it is Fraga who is guilty of the child’s death.

After a mid-day break, testimony began with Dr. Victor Froloff, the assistant medical examiner at Ramsey County who performed an autopsy on the child after she was pronounced dead. It was Froloff’s job to determine a manner and cause of death, which he named a homicide due to a traumatic head injury.

While he couldn’t say what caused the head injuries to Samantha, Froloff did say he found the injuries to her head and the abrasions on her face suspicious, attributing the scratches under her eye and around her lips to pressure being applied, as if someone had tried to stop her from crying out.

Froloff offered some insight into the child’s other injuries to the best of his abilities, but said he could not pinpoint an exact time of death. He did narrow that time to somewhere between 8 p.m. and 2 a.m. on the morning her aunt and uncle brought her to the ER.

Today’s court room proceedings are scheduled to contain testimony from other medical personnel from the hospital in Worthington and some law enforcement who were first on the scene.

JACKSON - The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office is warning local residents about a scam in which fraudulent callers are attempting to collect personal information by posing as representatives of a firm dealing in medical alert devices. The scam was brought to the attention of the sheriff’s office recently by a citizen.

Jackson County Sheriff Roger Hawkinson on Monday said the scammers pose as representatives of a firm called “Medic Alert” or “Medical Alert.” The calls — both automated and by live callers — are being placed primarily to senior citizens telling them a medical alert device has been purchased for them, and then asking to schedule an appointment for delivery and installation, followed by a request for bank account information and other personal information, including credit card information for the monthly service fee.

Hawkinson urges those who receive these calls not to give out any personal information.

JACKSON - Officials say two arrests have been made in connection with a series of machinery thefts in Jackson, Martin and Watonwan counties in Minnesota and Emmet County in Iowa.

Dylan Thompson of rural Jackson, 19, was arrested by the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office and 20-year-old Bryan Paul Poppe of rural Trimont and a 17-year-old male juvenile, also from rural Trimont were arrested by the Martin County Sheriff’s Office.

Items taken and recovered from Jackson County include an ATV, a bobcat and three chainsaws that had been taken in a burglary in Christiania Township. A John Deere lawn tractor stolen from Watonwan County was located in Enterprise Township of Jackson County on September 9th.

About $30,000 in tools were recovered from a burglary at Agco in Jackson which was reported on July 4th of this year. About half the tools were located in Martin County. Tools and other items related to a burglary that occurred in July in the city of Welcome were also recovered. A hay baler and rake were found buried at Thompson's residence. Authorities say those items had been stolen from Watonwan County sometime in July of this year.

Authorities say Thompson was cooperative in the investigation and led them to a cornfield in Kimball Township of Jackson County where the stolen bobcat was located and gave directions that resulted in them locating the ATV in a cornfield in Cottonwood County.

A John Deere tractor and a round baler with a total value of $90,000 had been reported stolen August 16th of this year from a farm northeast of Estherville. The machinery was recovered in Watonwan County on August 30th.

FONDA, Iowa - Another fish kill is being reported in northwest Iowa…this one in Pocahontas county. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources says it was reported Monday in Big Cedar Creek about seven miles northeast of Fonda. County officials filed the report with the DNR after finding brown water that smelled like manure. They also found dead carp and minnows in the stream.

Upon arriving, DNR staff found high levels of ammonia in the stream and traced the source to an underground tile line. They followed the tile line to a small hog confinement operation near Varina which uses an earthen lagoon to store manure.

DNR fisheries staff are doing a count to see how extensive the fish kill is. They initially found dead fish for about five miles downstream.

Officials say DNR environmental specialists will continue to monitor the situation and take appropriate enforcement action.

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