Ricketts: European Trade Mission Helped Promote Nebraska

Pete Ricketts

Pete Ricketts

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Gov. Pete Ricketts is wrapping up a European trade mission that focused on building relationships with companies and promoting Nebraska’s workforce.

Ricketts was scheduled to return to Nebraska on Tuesday after an eight-day trip with stops in Italy, Belgium and Denmark.

The governor says he and a state delegation sought to build long-term relationships with European companies, some of whom are likely to visit Nebraska later this year. Nebraska is hosting its annual “Passport Weekend” for out-of-state businesses in September.

Ricketts says delegation members worked to educate European companies and government officials about Nebraska, while dispelling what they consider misperceptions about American agriculture. Ricketts says the group focused on Nebraska’s workforce, quality of life and the work ethic of its residents.

Man Accused of Stealing Donation Jar for NP Girl with Terminal Cancer

Robert Charles Bergen

Robert Charles Bergen

A North Platte man is facing charges after he allegedly stole a donation jar from a local convenience store.

At around 4:45 a.m., on June 10, officers with the North Platte Police Department responded to Caseys, 2421 Rodeo Road, on the report of a theft.

Staff at the store alleged that the suspect, later identified through surveillance video as 30-year-old Robert Charles Bergen, entered the store while an employee was busy and stole a donation jar containing around $250.00.

Police say the jar was being used to collect money for 3-year-old Olivia Swedberg, who was diagnosed with intrinsic pontine glioma, a terminal brain cancer, in May.

Officers searched thoroughly but were unable to locate Bergen.

Later in the day, an off-duty officer observed Bergen walking on foot near 4th Street and Buffalo Bill Avenue.

He reported it to dispatchers, and officers were able to locate Bergen as he was crossing the Buffalo Bill viaduct.

Bergen was placed under arrest and transported to the Lincoln County Detention Center.

He’s been charged with theft.  Bergen also had two active Lincoln County warrants for failure to appear.

Police did not say if the money was recovered.

NWS Confirms Tornado Near Lake Maloney


A landspout tornado touches down near Lake Maloney on Sunday afternoon. The National Weather service says the twister was brief and there were no reports of damage or injuries.  Photo courtesy of Kate Edwards

An uneventful Sunday afternoon quickly took a turn when tornado sirens sounded in North Platte.

According to the North Platte Police Department, a citizen called the 911 center and reported a tornado on the Southeast side of Lake Maloney at around 12:25 p.m.

Authorities say the National Weather Service confirmed the tornado and reported that the tornado was nearly stationary.

Because it was unknown which direction the cell would move, the sirens were sounded at Lake Maloney, as well as in the city limits of North Platte.

Police say dispatchers received numerous 911 calls from citizens asking why the tornado sirens were going off, and remind citizens that the sirens are only tested on the first Wednesday of each month at 11:30 a.m.  They say any sirens sounded outside of this time indicate an emergency and should be taken seriously.

The high volume of 911 calls only compounds an already hectic time for the dispatchers and police say the congestion may keep someone with a real emergency from getting assistance.  They ask that 911 only be used in the event of an emergency.

The Weather Service says the landspout tornado was on the ground for a few minutes and there have been no reports of damage or injuries.

According to meteorologists, a landspout tornado is a tornado that is not associated with the mesocyclone of a thunderstorm.  They are typically shorter in duration and produce less damage than their supercell counterparts.

A storm near Anselmo also produced a funnel cloud on Sunday afternoon, but the Weather Service said it did not touch the ground.



NP Police Investigate False ‘Shots Fired’ Report at Local Church


An unidentified officer with the North Platte Police Department responds to a shots fired report at the Church of Christ at 700 South Willow Street. Police determined the report was false.  Photo by Dave Lee

The North Platte Police Department is investigating a false report of a shooting at a local church.

At around 12:01 p.m., on June 14, the NPPD received a call from a subject who said there was a man with a gun at the Church of Christ.

According to police, as dispatchers were talking to the subject, they heard what sounded like multiple gunshots in the background.  The caller also made a reference to ISIS, an Islamic terrorist group, during the call, according to Lt. Steve Reeves.

Police say there are two Church of Christ locations in North Platte, one at 700 South Willow Street and one at 3311 South Oak Street.

Because the caller did not specify which location they were referring to, NPPD officers responded to the South Willow location, and deputies with the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office responded to the church on South Oak.  Additionally, other officers, who were off-duty, were called in to ensure there was enough manpower.

Authorities say law enforcement entered both churches and deemed them both to be safe.

They say, at this time, it appears the caller provided false information.

Investigators are working to identify the caller.  Police believe the call was made over the internet.

NP Police Investigate Friday Night Stabbing

north_platte_patchNorth Platte Police are investigating an assault on Friday evening, that left a 19-year-old man with a stab wound.

At around 11:10 p.m., on June 5, officers with the NPPD responded to a home in the 2000 block of East 2nd Street, after receiving a report that a man had been stabbed.

Police say the stabbing occurred during a scuffle involving as many as five people.

At some point, police say the 19-year-old male sustained an abdominal stab wound.

Authorities say the investigation is still active, so very few details were available, and investigators are still working to identify all the parties involved in the disturbance.

The victim’s name and condition were not released.


South Dakota Man Accused Stealing Rural Lincoln County Family’s Car, Setting Up Camp

Craig Halstead

Craig Halstead

A South Dakota man is in jail in Lincoln County after a rather strange series of events on Tuesday night.

At around 9:20 p.m., deputies with the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office were dispatched to a residence on East Golden Road.

The property owner had reported that there were a pickup and camper parked on his property, and he didn’t know who it belonged to.

The victim told deputies that he approached the pickup and camper and found them both to be unoccupied.

A short time later, a male subject, unknown to the victim, drove up in one of the family’s cars, and was wearing a hat and gloves that belonged to the victim’s wife.

After noticing that the male subject, later identified as Craig Halstead, had a gun, the victim left the area and contacted law enforcement.

Deputies located Halstead in his camper, along with several firearms and property belonging to the victim.

Halstead was detained and transported to the Lincoln County Detention Center, where he was jailed on charges of trespassing, unauthorized use of a vehicle, felony theft, felony possession of stolen property and use of a deadly weapon during the commission of a felony.

Deputies say the investigation is ongoing.



Woman Accused of Leading NP Police on Pursuit Arrested in Frontier County

Brandi Lyn Paz: Felony Aggravated Assault on a Police Officer, Criminal Mischief, Driving Under the Influence of Liquor, Refusal to Submit to Chemical/Breath Test, Willful Reckless Driving, Felony Flight to Avoid Arrest

Brandi Paz

A North Platte woman has been charged with numerous crimes after she allegedly ran from police.

At around 9:00 p.m., on May 31, an officer with the North Platte Police Department was on patrol and observed a silver Pontiac Grad Prix traveling northbound on Willow Street at approximately 80 mph.

The officer attempted to catch-up to the vehicle, which had turned off of Willow Street and was heading eastbound.

The vehicle then went south on Jeffers, and reportedly began weaving in and out of traffic, in what police believe was an attempt to evade them.

According to police, the vehicle was forced to slow down to around 58 mph because of the construction on the Interstate 80 overpass.  After the vehicle cleared the construction zone, authorities say it continued to flee southbound on Highway 83, reaching estimated speeds of 90 to 100 mph.

Due to the danger created by the high speeds, the officer terminated the pursuit.

Then, at around 9:30 p.m., a deputy with the Frontier County Sheriff’s Office observed the vehicle speeding and conducted a traffic stop just south of the Lincoln County line.

The deputy made contact with the driver, 26-year-old Brandi Paz, who he believed to be under the influence.  However, Paz refused to submit to a breath test.

The Frontier County Deputies were transporting Paz to the Lincoln County Detention Center when she allegedly damaged the rear window of their patrol car.

They eventually arrived at the LCDC, where Paz was booked on Lincoln County charges of willful reckless driving and operating a motor vehicle to avoid arrest and Frontier County charges of felony criminal mischief, refusal to submit to a chemical/breath test, driving under the influence and two counts of assault on an officer.

NP Woman Accused of Beating Other Woman with Coin-Filled Sock

Michelle Jones

Michelle Jones

A North Platte woman is facing a felony assault charge after she allegedly assaulted a woman on Sunday evening.

At around 7:00 p.m., on May 31, North Platte Police responded to the report of an assault at a residence in the 2300 block of West 13th Street.

Officers arrived and met with the 55-year-old homeowner, who stated that 48-year-old Michelle Jones, who had been told not to enter the house, entered the house anyway.

Once inside, Jones allegedly began yelling at a 28-year-old female and began beating her with a cotton sock which contained numerous coins.

Following further investigation, officers located Jones and placed her under arrest.

She was jailed at the Lincoln County Detention Center and charged with felony 2nd-degree assault.

NP Woman Charged with Domestic Assault, Assault on an Officer

jailA 30-year-old North Platte woman is facing charges after she allegedly assaulted her domestic partner and a North Platte Police officer.

At around 1:30 a.m., on May 30, officers responded to a residence in the 300 block of East 11th Street on the report of a disturbance.

Officers arrived and met with a 32-year-old male who alleged that, following an argument, his domestic partner, Melinda Reyes, had jumped on him and began punching and clawing his face.

The victim then attempted to leave and asked a neighbor to call the police.

Following further investigation, officers determined that there was probable cause to arrest Reyes for domestic assault.

As officers attempted to take Reyes into custody, she allegedly became defiant and aggressive. At one point, police say Reyes kicked an officer multiple times, causing him injury and pain.

Officers were eventually able to subdue Reyes and take her into custody.

She was transported to the Lincoln County Detention Center and jailed on charges of 3rd-degree assault on an officer, 3rd-degree domestic assault, and resisting arrest.

Also, because the assault took place in front of a one-year-old child, Reyes was charged with child abuse.

Police say two male children, ages one and two, were placed in temporary protective custody with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.



Divers Locate Vehicle Driven by Missing NP Teens in South Platte River

Authorities say the vehicle that two missing North Platte teens were in when it plunged into the South Platte River has been located.

According to Lincoln County Sheriff Jerome Kramer, divers were placed in a platform at around 6:00 p.m., on Tuesday, and lowered into the river where sonar equipment had located what was believed to be a vehicle.

Kramer said the divers were able to lower down directly on top of the object and confirm that it was the vehicle that was being driven by Lexi Wiezorek.

According to Kramer, divers reported that the vehicle was completely buried and “silted in,” but a small portion of the roof and the windshield were exposed.

Kramer said a small opening in an area of the windshield allowed the diver to reach inside the vehicle, and he reported that the inside of the vehicle was completely full of silt as well.

“There is no way to retrieve the vehicle from the water until we’re able to dig it out with heavy equipment when the water level recedes,” Sheriff Kramer said.

Chief Deputy Roland Kramer said because the vehicle is 98 percent covered in sand inside and out, any attempt to pull the vehicle out would be unsuccessful because of the weight.

Chief Deputy Kramer said the National Weather Service told them earlier in the week that they projected the river would recede by June 15, however, recent rains have likely extended that date.

Authorities say the exact location of the vehicle has been marked using GPS, and will also be marked by surveyors to ensure they can easily relocate it when the river levels recede.

Officials are asking the public to stay away from the search area, and say any violators will be arrested and charged with trespassing.

The crane used in today’s operation was provided by Simon Contractors and the platform, which weighed around 3,600 pounds, was constructed by TK’s Welding.