- Associated Press - Friday, June 6, 2014
Gypsy moth spraying set for Duluth

DULUTH, Minn. (AP) - The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is preparing to treat about 1,200 acres in Duluth to slow the spread of a gypsy moth infestation.

Depending on the weather, officials are set to conduct the treatment on Thursday.

Last year, the department’s gypsy moth monitoring program detected a localized infestation of the destructive tree pest. The treatment area is located in West Duluth.

Officials plan to conduct two aerial applications of a bacterium over the same area, spaced five to 10 days apart. The bacterium has a low risk for humans or animals other than caterpillars.

As gypsy moth caterpillars eat the leaves, the insect ingests the bacterium, which stops the caterpillars from doing any more damage.

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Man found competent to stand trial in boy’s death

STILLWATER, Minn. (AP) - An Oakdale man has been found competent to stand trial in last year’s random shooting death of a 9-year-old boy.

Washington County Judge Gary Schurrer ruled Friday that 35-year-old Nhan Tran has recovered sufficiently to understand the charges against him and to participate in his defense.

Tran has spent much of the past year being treated for mental illness at the St. Peter Regional Treatment Center.

Tran is accused of walking about a block from his suburban home in February 2013 and randomly shooting at cars as they drove by.

One of the shots hit and killed fourth-grader Devin Aryal as he rode home from day care with his mother.

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Police officer accused of forgery, funding inmate

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - A St. Paul police officer faces three forgery-related charges for allegedly using someone else’s identity to funnel money to a gang member who was imprisoned for attempted murder, authorities said Friday.

Ruby Diaz, a 38-year-old school resource officer at Humboldt High School, has been placed on administrative leave, police Chief Tom Smith said. Authorities discovered Diaz had a relationship with the inmate while police were following up on a shooting investigation, and they traced deposits into his prison account back to Diaz’s work computer and her credit cards, according to a criminal complaint.

Smith described the inmate, Ramone Smaller, as “a very violent individual.” He is in the state prison in St. Cloud after pleading guilty last December to third-degree attempted murder. On Friday, he was charged with 10 new firearms and assault counts related to shootings last October that authorities said were gang-related.

In one of those shootings, authorities allege, more than two dozen rounds were fired into a house where two senior citizens lived. The criminal complaint says one of the women is the grandmother of a man in a rival gang.

“Innocent community members were caught in the crossfire,” Ramsey County Attorney John Choi said. “These crimes were the result of a petty gang feud between rival gangs. … My hope is that today’s charges will bring some modicum of peace to our community.”

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Minnesota teen spending a year of nights outside

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Seventeen-year-old Rudy Hummel hasn’t let bitter cold, rain or mosquitoes prevent him from sleeping outside every night for a full year.

The Minnesota youth is preparing to spend one last night in his treehouse in Hermantown, making it 365 straight nights outside. He endured 76 subzero nights in a snow cave. He’d pitch a tent while traveling. By his count, he slept outdoors in 30 different places.

The Boy Scout’s experiment is partly a fundraiser for Habitat for Humanity and the Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory in Duluth.

Hummel says winter nights weren’t so bad, even at 27 below. He says hot, humid summer nights were the worst.

He’s invited friends over to sleep in his yard Friday night, and urges others to join them by sleeping out wherever they are.

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