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Local heroes
Nov. 18, 2013

Officers who responded to kidnapping, and Independence man who rescued woman honored

By Ryan Gueningsman
Managing Editor

INDEPENDENCE, LORETTO, MN – Two special presentations took place Tuesday night at local city council meetings.

Police officers and state troopers who responded to the Sept. 11 kidnapping of a Loretto resident were recognized by the Loretto City Council.

The same evening, Independence resident James Buck, who pulled 24-year-old Brittany Meihofer of Rockford from a vehicle on Hennepin County Road 11 moments before it caught fire Sept. 25, was honored by the Independence City Council.

Loretto kidnapping incident Sept. 11

At a prior Loretto City Council meeting, the council had directed its city staff to draft a resolution recognizing officers who responded to the Sept. 11 kidnapping of a 37-year-old Loretto resident.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Sgt. Jason Nelson of the Medina Police Department provided a recap of the event, noting the initial call received was that of a suspicious circumstance.

“The victim’s wife thought something may have happened (to her husband),” Nelson said. “She had seen him pull into his driveway, but he didn’t come into the house like he normally did.”

Nelson said the wife went outside to look for her husband and saw a vehicle speeding away. She thought she may have seen someone get put into a trunk, but could not say for sure what had happened.

Officers were dispatched and checked the area, Nelson said, determining the victim was not at the residence. Responding officers were asked to watch for a vehicle that matched the description of the one the victim’s wife provided authorities, and Three Rivers Park District Police Officer Chad Dickie spotted and stopped the vehicle.

One suspect fled immediately, and another suspect fled not long after, according to Nelson, leading to a several-hour manhunt in the woods north of Highway 55 in Corcoran. The kidnapping victim was found in the trunk of the vehicle Dickie pulled over and returned safely to his family.

After an area search involving several agencies from the west metro, several K9 units, and the Minnesota State Patrol helicopter, William Charles Graham, 30, and Ronald Jermaine Jackson, 29, were taken into custody just after midnight.

The two were booked into the Hennepin County Adult Detention Center on probable cause kidnapping.

The suspects had followed the victim to the location of the abduction. As the victim was exiting his vehicle, one of the suspects approached him with what was later to be determined as a replica gun and pulled him towards the suspects’ vehicle, according to the Medina Police Department. The suspects zip-tied his hands and shoved him into the trunk of the Dodge Charger.

It is believed the suspects’ intentions were to take keys to the victim’s retail store to gain entry to burglarize it, according to Medina Police Chief Ed Belland.

“A couple officers received minor injuries from the pursuit, otherwise it worked as it should, with good teamwork and cooperation from everyone,” Nelson said. “It was great police work and a good job.”

Agencies recognized Tuesday night were: Medina, Corcoran, West Hennepin Public Safety, Orono, Plymouth, Three Rivers Park, New Hope, Minnetrista, Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, and the Minnesota State Patrol

A certificate was presented to each agency involved with the incident, and a photograph was taken of those officers present.

Independence car fire incident Sept. 25

James Buck of Independence was honored by the Independence City Council Tuesday evening.

Buck, from Independence, was driving westbound on Hennepin County Road 11 near Independence Street just after 8 p.m. Sept. 25 when he noticed vehicle brake lights down in the eastbound ditch, according to West Hennepin Public Safety (WHPS).

Buck pulled his vehicle to the side of the road and, as he approached the vehicle, he observed smoke coming from the vehicle. He opened the door and pulled driver Brittany Meihofer, 24, of Rockford, out of the vehicle in fear that it was going to start on fire.

Seconds after pulling Meihofer out of the vehicle, it went up in flames, according to WHPS.

“Thanks to James Buck’s observation and immediate actions to pull Meihofer from her vehicle, she is alive today,” said WHPS Director Ray McCoy. “This crash had all the potentials to be a fatality instead of a personal injury.”

Buck was honored with a certificate from WHPS for his actions that evening.

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