Father charged with murder for newborn's death

APPLE VALLEY, MN --  The Dakota County Attorney’s office Thursday charged the father of a 13-day-old baby with second-degree murder in connection with the baby’s death.
     The baby’s father, Michael Herkal, 32, 3409 Garnet Court, Burnsville, was originally charged with felony assault and child abuse charges after Apple Valley first responders were called to the baby’s home Aug. 12 because the baby, Anthony Herkal, was not breathing. The charges were upgraded to murder after the baby died in the hospital on Aug. 14.
    The criminal complaint against Herkal includes three alternate counts of felony murder: causing the baby’s death while committing first-  or third-degree assault or felony malicious punishment of a child.
  Herkal was ordered held at Dakota County jail in lieu of $1 million bail.
   Herkal was originally charged with first-degree assault and malicious punishment of a child. Apple Valley Police were called to the baby’s home at about 7:30 p.m. Sunday night, Aug. 12, for a report the infant was not breathing. The baby’s mother, who had left the baby with his father after the couple had an argument, called 911 to report her boyfriend had told her the baby would not wake up. Herkal himself then called 911 reporting the baby was limp and not breathing, according to investigators.
   Police arrived to find the baby was not breathing and had no pulse. While the first responders were trying to save the baby’s life, they noticed several bruises on the baby’s body, according to court records.
   The baby was taken to a local hospital by ambulance but later transferred to Children’s Masonic because could not breathe on his own and had suffered a skull fracture.  
   Investigators allege Herkal originally blamed the baby’s injuries on a toddler who was in the baby’s home at the time, claiming the toddler had twice pulled the baby off the couch. He later changed his story, according to police, explaining he had squeezed the baby because the baby was kicking during his diaper change. Herkal also allegedly admitted the baby “slipped out of his hands and fell onto a coffee table.”
   Investigators searched Herkal’s phone and found Google searches such as “someone threw a baby on the floor” and “noisy baby breathing what’s normal and what’s not” had been run about an hour and a half before Herkal called 911.
   Herkal had been sentenced to 90 days in jail and five years of probation last September for violating a domestic abuse no contact order after two or more violations, according to court records. Following the assault charge, a summons for a probation violation was issued Tuesday and a hearing on that matter was scheduled for Aug. 23.
Michael Herkal
Eagan man arrested in Farmington

FARMINGTON, MN – An Eagan man is facing a drug charge following his arrest in Farmington Aug. 21.
   Mohamed Salad, 24, of 4459 Slater Road, Eagan, was charged with one count of fifth-degree possession of a controlled substance, a gross misdemeanor, according to a criminal complaint. Salad was a passenger in a car stopped by police near County Road 50 and Flagstaff Avenue at about 11 p.m. Aug. 21, according to court records. Police discovered there was an outstanding arrest warrant for Salad from Hennepin County. During a search incident to his arrest, police allegedly found a pill identified by police as Alprazolam.

Peace officers

City Council approves $22.5 million in debt

EAGAN, MN – The Eagan City Council has approved a resolution to take on nearly $22.5 million in debt, extending the mortgage on city buildings, previously scheduled to end this year, for decades.
   The resolution was included as part of the city council’s consent agenda, a laundry list of typically routine items summarily approved during city council meetings. Consent agenda items are not discussed or voted on separately. The Aug. 21 consent agenda was swiftly approved without discussion by the city council during a noisy portion of the meeting while a crowd was still filing out of the room after watching a ceremony for the city’s new police chief.
   Other items  included on the consent agenda included approval of minutes from a previous meeting, accepting the resignation of the city’s communications director, and placement of public art.
   The city’s new debt would be issued under a series of municipal bonds with expected interest rates of more than three percent. Rates could be higher as interest rates rise. Bonds would be issued over a 20-year period beginning in 2019. City officials were expecting to discuss the city’s bond rating, a classification to determine the interest the city would pay on the newly issued debt, with the major bond rating agencies, Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s, this week.
Dakota County Sheriff's deputies joined the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Cambodian Buddhist Temple Aug. 26.

Storm knocks out power to thousands of locals

   A fierce afternoon thunderstorm knocked out power to thousands of homes in Eagan and surrounding towns, according to the region’s electric supplier.
   Dakota Electric reported more than 8,000 customers lost power during the storm that struck the city between 5 and 6 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 27. The company was flooded with calls reporting outages after its website crashed during the outage.
   The storm caused a momentary blackout at one of Eagan’s largest employers, Thomson Reuters. Fallen trees and downed power lines were reported. Streets throughout Eagan were littered with branches and leaves after the storm.
   Dakota Electric reported power had been restored to about 7,100 customers within two hours.
Dakota Electric's power outage map shows clusters of customers without electricity after Monday afternoon's storm.

Police Chief New takes official oath

Eagan City Administrator Dave Osberg administers the oath of office to newly appointed police chief Roger New at the Aug. 21 city council meeting.
EAGAN, MN -- Eagan’s new police chief, Roger New, a 24-year veteran of the department, took the oath of office Aug. 21 before a crowd of family, past and present police officers and chiefs, and community supporters.
  “Wow,” Chief New said as he turned to look back at the crowd before thanking them for their support. “It’s really overwhelming.”
  “It’s truly an honor to lead one of the best police departments in state of Minnesota which is largely the result of all the hard work all the men and women of the Eagan police department day in and day out,” Chief New said. “It’s an honor to be your Chief of Police.”
  Chief New, who was promoted from the position of Deputy Chief on May 22, was the hand-picked successor to retired police chief James McDonald and the only candidate the city council interviewed for the position.
  “We are honored to have you as our police chief,” Mayor Mike Maguire said.
  Chief New takes office at a time of transition for the department, currently in temporary housing at city hall during a substantial multi-million-dollar renovation of Eagan police headquarters. Because of commercial growth in the city, the department is hiring additional police officers and new officers to replace police staff that will be retiring within the next few years.
  His transition also came at during a busy summer in Eagan with an NFL training camp moving to the city and Fourth of July celebrations and other activities. The city has also been the apparent target of shoplifting organizations working local retailers.
  Just days before his official elevation to Chief on July 1, a double homicide, a motor vehicle hit-and-run was committed in the city. The suspect was captured within eight hours and Chief New was at the courthouse when the prosecution argued for $2 million bail.
  In addition to support from the community, Chief New is well-regarded by other law enforcement officials in the region.
  “Roger is a great choice for chief and has some big shoes to fill with the departure of Jim McDonald,” Dakota County Sheriff Tim Leslie said, adding that he looked forward to watching Chief New “put his mark on the Eagan PD and to watch his development as a Chief of Police. I look forward to continued partnerships and sharing with Roger as we work together providing for the public safety across Dakota County.”
   “Roger New was an excellent Assistant Chief at the Eagan Police Department and will be an outstanding Police Chief,” Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom said. “In addition to the Eagan community, he has the respect and support of law enforcement leaders throughout Dakota County and the state.”

Two face drug charges from Cedar Grove traffic stop

EAGAN, MN – Two people are facing drug charges as a result of an Eagan police vehicle stop on Cedar Grove Parkway last November.
   The complaints were issued Aug. 22, according to court records, more than nine months after the motor vehicle stop. An Eagan police officer on routine patrol stopped the vehicle shortly after 1 a.m. Nov. 15 after a license check revealed the registered owner’s driver’s license had been revoked, according to a criminal complaint. Police allegedly found two passengers of the car were carrying illegal drugs.
   Police allege a backseat passenger, Allison Traina, was carrying 3.24 grams of methamphetamine and 2.37 grams of heroin in her purse. Traina, 22, of 914 6th Ave. S., St. Cloud, was charged with two felony counts of fifth-degree possession of a controlled substance, according to a criminal complaint.
Daniel Archambault, 19, of 712 24th Ave. NE, Minneapolis, was charged with fifth-degree possession of a controlled substance, a gross misdemeanor. Police allege Archambault was carrying a pack of cigarettes holding a bag containing .09 grams of heroin.  
   Archambault has been summonsed to appear in Dakota County court on Sept. 24. Traina has been summonsed to appear on Oct. 1.