Eagan is preparing for its Fourth of July festivities. Notice has been posted about the coming closure of Yankee Doodle Road. Eagan Funfest, the annual celebration at the community center festival grounds, opens at 4 p.m. July 3.

Police catch Texas bandits

Melvin Williams
James Earl Hinkle
    Two Texas men are facing felony charges after a report of stolen gift cards from an Apple Valley store led to a police chase.
    James Earl Hinkle Jr., 30, of 7461 Candleridge Circle, Fort Worth, Texas, was charged with felony theft over $5,000 and felony fleeing a police officer in a motor vehicle, according to Dakota County court records. A co-defendant, Melvin Glenn Williams, 26, also of Texas, was charged with felony theft.
    The charges stem from a June 21 report to Apple Valley police that a man had just stolen more than $1,000 in gift cards from a store and had left the store in a black car. A man had asked the cashier to place $7,000 on three separate gift cards and a woman had asked the cashier to place $3,000 on a separate set of cards. When the cashier asked them to pay for the cards, the two instead ran from the store with them, according to a criminal complaint.
   Police found the suspect car nearby and tried to pull it over. When a police officer turned on the emergency lights and siren, the suspect car did not pull over but sped up, according to police.
    The suspected getaway car ran "multiple" red lights, wove through traffic, drove traffic, drove against traffic, hit garbage cans and street signs and drove on the shoulder of the road, travelling 70 to 80 miles per hour in a 30 m.p.h. zone, according to police. The getaway car then jumped a curb into a business parking lot and continued to flee, according to police, tossing Walmart gift cards out along the way. Police then drove into the getaway car, a police maneuver to force the car to stop. The passenger in the front seat jumped out of the car and fled police on foot. Hinkle, the driver, was apprehended when he got out of the car.
    Police continued chasing Williams, the passenger, on foot as he ran through bushes and eventually laid down.
    Police searched the getaway car later that evening and found several receipts from various locations of the retail chain throughout Minnesota. They also found a backpack containing firearm ammunition in the trunk of the car.
    Williams allegedly told police that Hinkle, his uncle, and a woman called Juicy approached him in Forth Worth, Texas and asked if he wanted to go to Minnesota to "make some money." Hinkle allegedly told police that his nephew, Williams, asked  Hinkle to drive him to Minnesota to earn money. The two gave conflicting accounts of what transpired at the scene of the crime, according to court records. No further information was available about the identity and status of the woman allegedly involved. 

Leigh Monson reviews Sicario: Day of the Soldado

Another music teacher sentenced for crime

   A Henry Sibley High School music teacher who pleaded guilty to criminal sexual conduct with a 17-year-old student was sentenced to six months on work release.
    Christine Funk, 32, of 6007 Hillsboro Ave. N, New Hope, was also sentenced to a three-year suspended sentence and ordered to pay $1,960 restitution at her June 25 sentencing, according to court records.
    Funk was originally charged with three counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct based on allegations she committed sexual acts with a student at her home, at the high school, and outside the student's home. Two of the felony charges were dismissed in accordance with a plea deal with the prosecution.
   Funk was the second high school music teacher sentenced in June for criminal sexual conduct with students. Earlier in June, a former Burnsville High School music teacher who had sex with a 16-year-old student was sentenced to 60 days in jail and 15 years probation.
  Erik Akervik, 30, of 15349 Greenhaven Lane #106, Burnsville, was sentenced by Dakota County district court Judge Arlene Perkkio on June 14. He pleaded guilty to one count of criminal sexual conduct in the third-degree on March 5, according to court records. A second charge against the same victim was dismissed. 
Christine Funk

Eagan police find stolen car

   A Saint Paul man was arrested after Eagan police stopped him driving a stolen car.
    Edward Thomas, 43, of 1725 Rose Ave. E, St. Paul, was charged with receiving stolen property, a felony, following a June 16 vehicle stop on Town Centre Drive in Eagan. While patrolling the area, an Eagan police officer saw a four-door tan sedan with license plates registered to a red 2006 Cadillac. Because of the discrepancy, police pulled the car over. Thomas, the driver, told police he had received the car from a friend. Investigators discovered the car had been reported stolen from an Inver Grove Heights car dealership on May 31.
Eagan Police reported finding a suspect vehicle in a fatal hit-and-run crash that killed two people in the parking lot of this nearby restaurant at about 11 p.m. Thursday, June 28.

Suspect arrested in double homicide on Silver Bell Road

   An Eagan man was ordered to be held in jail without bail Friday following his arrest Friday morning on two counts of second-degree murder in connection with the deaths of a 74-year-old man and his wife in a Silver Bell Road parking lot.
   The couple, whose names have not been released to the public, were struck by a car in the parking lot of 2020 Silver Bell Road, according to police. They were taken by ambulance to Regions Hospital where they were pronounced dead, according to police. Investigators believe the couple were just out for their usual evening stroll and had no apparent connection to the suspect.

   The area where the double fatality occurred is a mixture of businesses, apartments, and single-family homes off Highway 13. There are 3 apartment buildings and sidewalks across the street from the parking lot of the business park at 2020 Silver Bell Road. The business park contains
Jonna Kojo Armartey
several businesses, including Bald Man Brewing which, in addition to brewing beer, operates a tap room serving beer with a patio in the back of the building. Tap rooms operate under a different city liquor license than the standard restaurant liquor license.
    Early Friday morning, police arrested Jonna Kojo Armartey, 36, of Eagan, on two counts of second-degree murder, according to jail records. Armartey was on probation following his conviction in March on a felony charge of fourth-degree assault of a correctional facility employee, prosecutor, judge or probation officer, according to court records. He was sentenced to two years probation on March 30, 2017, and given credit for 85 days served in jail.
    Eagan Police did not respond to a request for further information about the case including why the suspect was charged with second-degree murder, a more serious charge, rather than vehicular homicide so early in the investigation. The statute cited in the arrest record charges typically applies to drive-by shootings, or cases where a suspect causes a death while committing a felony or killing a person under a protective order such as a domestic violence protection order.
   Eagan police were called to the scene of the hit-and-run shortly before 10 p.m. Thursday night. They found the two victims at the scene in the parking lot near a business on the west side of 2020 Silver Bell Road. The driver who struck them had fled the scene, but police found a suspect vehicle without the driver at La Fonda De Los Lobos restaurant on Highway 13 at about 11 p.m.
    Police tracked Armartey to the AmericInn at 15000 Glazier Ave. in Apple Valley and arrested him about six hours later. The investigation is continuing, according to police.

Superintendent says farewell

Eagan American Legion Post 594 Legionnaires John Flynn and Wayne Beierman presented retiring ISD 196 School Superintendent Jane Berenz with a certificate of gratitude and the American Legion Gold Medal of Merit for her support of the military at Berenz's final school board meeting June 25.
   Independent School District 196 Superintendent Jane Berenz said her farewell to the school board at her final board meeting June 25, after receiving another award for her years of service.
    Berenz, who began her career in the district 31 years ago as a teacher, appeared to choke up as she spoke about the students of the district in her farewell comments.  "I'd like to thank the students of District 196," Berenz said. "I am always amazed at the talented and caring young people who throughout this district come year after year."
    American Legion Post 594 presented Berenz with a certificate of gratitude and the American Legion Gold Medal of Merit for her support of the military, veterans, and recognition of students planning to enter the military after graduation.