Year in Review: Looking back at Minnesota’s top stories of 2022
As 2022 draws to a close, here is a look at the top news that made headlines throughout the year.
When 2022 began, Minnesota was just starting to deal with another COVID-19 surge, which prompted some vaccine or proof of negative test requirements in the Twin Cities. Those requirements led to lawsuits, which were denied, but the requirements were dropped a couple of weeks later.
Ahead of the new legislative session, Gov. Tim Walz’s proposal to send direct payments to Minnesotans caught viewers’ attention. However, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle weren’t too fond of the idea, and the plan was killed, as was the lawmakers’ overall budget bill. Walz said earlier this month he may present the idea again before the 2023 legislative session due to the massive budget surplus.
Other popular stories in January:
- The start of the federal trial for the three former Minneapolis police officers charged in George Floyd’s death.
- The Minnesota Vikings’ hiring of a new general manager.
- The opening of a 37-mile ice road across Lake of the Woods.
- An injured serval cat’s journey to Minnesota.
- The death of St. Paul native Louie Anderson.
In February, Minneapolis police shot and killed Amir Locke while they executed a search warrant and looked for his cousin, who was wanted for the murder of Otis Elder. Locke’s death prompted protests and rallies, and also brought the use of no-knock warrants under review. Ultimately, no charges were filed in Locke’s death.
As the community was still dealing with Locke’s death, two teenagers were killed. Jahmari Rice was killed outside the South Education Center in Richfield. Then, a week later, Deshaun Hill, Jr. was killed in Minneapolis. One suspect in Rice’s murder already went on trial and another will do so next year. The man accused of killing Hill will go on trial next year.
It was also a busy month in court, as the three former Minneapolis police officers charged in George Floyd’s death were found guilty of violating Floyd’s civil rights. Also, former Brooklyn Center officer Kimberly Potter was sentenced for the shooting that killed Daunte Wright. Those proceedings, as well as Locke’s death, led to the activation of the Minnesota National Guard.
And, as Russia invaded Ukraine, Minnesotans rallied for peace, stood with Ukrainian people, lit monuments in support of Ukraine, and made donations. The war, which has led to tens of thousands of deaths, continues to rage on.
Other big stories in February:
- The death of Minnesota’s First District Congressman, Rep. Jim Hagedorn. KSTP’s Tom Hauser hosted a segment remembering Hagedorn during “At Issue.”
- The Vikings’ hiring of head coach Kevin O’Connell.
- The tale of a Minnesotan angler who caught a rare “golden crappie.”
- The follow-up with a Woodbury mother after she received the miracle her family was hoping for: a heart transplant.
- The generosity of a group of Hudson students who surprised their teacher with a gift.
While St. Paul teachers and district leaders struck a deal on a new contract in March, Minneapolis teachers went on strike, which led to canceled classes. After multiple weeks, a deal was reached, but not everyone was happy that the strike pushed the school year to nearly the end of June.
5 INVESTIGATES obtained body camera video and followed up on its “Banking While Black” report, which showed discrimination at U.S. Bank.
State officials confirmed the first cases of the H5N1 Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza, which led to a temporary ban on poultry sales and exhibitions. The bird flu went on to affect more than 57 million birds across the country over the coming months, including more than 4 million in Minnesota.
As fighting in Ukraine continued, Minnesota native Jim Hill was killed in a Russian attack. Family members told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that Hill, a 1973 graduate of Mahtomedi High School, was killed while waiting in a bread line.
Other big stories from March:
- A Mayo Clinic doctor saying the COVID-19 pandemic is on its way to becoming endemic.
- Community members in Olivia mourning the death of a 13-year-old boy who was killed while trying to protect his mother.
- Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Jensen announced Matt Birk as his running mate.
- Truckers rolling through the state to protest mask and vaccine regulations during COVID-19.
- Sun Country customers’ frustration after getting stranded in Florida.
Severe weather, which produced hail and even one tornado, led to heavy damage in parts of the state in April. Strong winds also caused nine semis to overturn on Interstate 35.
For the first time since 2010, a Minnesota store sold a jackpot-winning Mega Millions lottery ticket. The lucky Minnesota couple opted for the cash payout, and the woman said when she realized she had the winning ticket, she texted her husband, “Come up here right now, I’m not even kidding.”
Minnesota’s Department of Human Rights released the findings of its investigation into Minneapolis and the city’s police department, saying it found a pattern of racial discrimination. Since then, the city and department have worked toward an agreement to rectify all of those issues but haven’t yet reported a finalized plan. Some of that may be because the U.S. Department of Justice’s investigation is still ongoing.
Rep. John Thompson made headlines again after St. Paul police said he bullied their officers after his daughter was pulled over. He denied the claim. The controversial state politician lost his bid for reelection during the August primaries.
And, communities were devastated by the murder of 10-year-old Illiana “Lily” Peters in Chippewa Falls. Her body was found a day after she was reported missing, and a 14-year-old was charged in her death.
Other popular stories in April:
- The community mourned the death of Sydney Kohner, who was killed in a car crash. The driver was later charged and sentenced to just shy of five years in jail.
- The Minnesota Department of Corrections posted a job for a tattoo supervisor.
- A Minnesota corrections officer was charged with smuggling meth into a state prison.
- Hy-Vee officials confirmed the decision to sell five metro plots of land instead of building on the sites.
The death of 6-year-old Eli Hart created heartbreak after he was found in a car; his mother is charged in his death. Community members rallied to honor him and continue to raise funds for a playground in remembrance of him. His father also sued the county.
Federal, state, and local officials announced a new plan to combat violent crime in the Twin Cities. The U.S. Attorney’s Office later said its prosecution of cases was up 300% this year.
Also, former Minneapolis police officer Thomas Lane pleaded guilty and avoided a state trial in George Floyd’s death.
Other big stories in May:
- Minnesota doctors offered advice for parents amid the national baby formula shortage.
- Duluth welcomed a cruise ship for the first time in nearly 10 years.
- A middle school principal was arrested and charged with trying to sexually exploit a minor. He later struck a plea deal and was sentenced.
- The spread of emerald ash borer accelerated across the state.
In late June, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, allowing states to ban abortions. That sparked conversations about the future of abortion in Minnesota. The following day, Gov. Tim Walz signed an order aimed at protecting abortion care.
The state’s Frontline Worker Pay program opened after much discussion. Despite state officials saying it estimated around 667,000 Minnesotans were eligible for the payments, more than 1 million were later approved and payments started in October.
The lengthy legal battle over Minneapolis police staffing levels made its way to the Minnesota Supreme Court, which determined the city had to hire more officers. However, it sent the case back to a lower court to determine if the city had an adequate reason for its inability to hire the number required by the city’s charter and the lawsuit was later dismissed.
Other big stories in June:
- An explosion on the University of Minnesota campus led to a mass evacuation and was later determined to have been caused by fuel leaking into the sewer. Another similar incident happened just over a month later, and records shed new light on the incidents.
- The CDC released a study showing how many people have long COVID symptoms.
- Former Gophers running back Marion Barber III was found dead. The cause was ruled as heat stroke.
- The Animal Humane Society rescued 47 cats from a vehicle at a rest stop.
- A judge ordered Minneapolis to temporarily stop implementing its 2040 plan. The judge later said the city could continue implementing the plan as the appeal process played out in court. The latest ruling came this week and went against the city, but officials say they plan to appeal it to the Minnesota Supreme Court.
- Target overhauled its downtown Minneapolis store, in part to address safety concerns.
With the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on Roe v. Wade still fresh, a Ramsey County judge ruled several Minnesota laws regulating abortion as unconstitutional. Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said his office wouldn’t appeal the ruling and the judge denied a late bid to intervene and challenge the ruling.
The state’s new law legalizing THC-infused edibles and beverages went into effect, and people flocked to stores to buy the products. The state opted to let consumers and cities enforce the new law, which was not appreciated by everyone. 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS learned the bill that legalized the products received very little scrutiny from lawmakers. State and local officials have said more regulation is needed, and the state’s Board of Pharmacy recently sued three retailers for selling products with far more THC than allowed.
Three former Minneapolis police officers were sentenced for violating George Floyd’s civil rights, ending the federal part of the case. Lane received slightly less time than the other two.
A stabbing on the Apple River in Wisconsin killed a teen and critically injured four other people. The suspect pleaded not guilty and will make his next court appearance in February 2023.
And Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., was among several lawmakers arrested for protesting the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision.
Other popular stories in July:
- Light rail expansion came under more scrutiny as projects faced delays and problems.
- Several Green Bay Packers players crashed a Minnesota couple’s wedding spread across social media.
- A Minnesota baby who weighed just 1 pound at birth continued to beat the odds and inspired many.
- An old act of kindness by former Minnesota Twins star Joe Mauer continues to have an impact today.
- More than 40,000 Minnesota Muslims filled U.S. Bank Stadium for “Super Eid.”
- Many eyes watched and speculated over whether the student loan payment pause would be extended. President Biden later announced a loan cancellation plan and extended the pause but the loan forgiveness plan has been challenged in court and will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Shots fired inside Mall of America led to a lockdown and search for suspects. Fortunately, nobody was injured. In total, five people were charged — one for the shooting and four for helping the suspect. However, the alleged shooter and one of the other suspects fled and were later arrested in Chicago. They’re expected to go on trial next year.
The Great Minnesota Get-Together bounced back after being heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Attendance jumped 41% from 2021, which also created some parking problems. While the fair was happening, more severe weather hit the state, with five tornadoes confirmed in the metro area in one night. The damage led to extensive cleanup efforts, but fortunately, it wasn’t worse.
Approximately 15,000 Minnesota nurses authorized a strike amid an ongoing contract dispute that would prove to last several months. The three-day strike happened in September but the dispute persisted and led to another strike authorization this month. Fortunately, that was averted and new three-year contracts were recently ratified.
Derek Chauvin, the officer who murdered George Floyd, was taken into federal custody a month after being sentenced. Ex-officer Thomas Lane also reported to serve his federal sentence. The other two former officers charged in the case didn’t have to report until October.
Other popular stories in August:
- Several new laws went into effect on Aug. 1. While none were as eye-catching as the THC law the previous month, many still garnered interest.
- A Minnesota man’s story of surviving a rare cancer thanks to a first-of-its-kind surgery inspired many.
- A Minneapolis woman was certified to have the longest fingernails in the world.
- Minnesotans loved the debut of three 3-month-old tigers at the Minnesota Zoo.
- A kayaker got a dose of “Minnesota nice” after his gear was stolen. Two people were later charged with the theft.
In a case that 5 INVESTIGATES had been tracking since the start of the year, federal officials in September charged 47 people in the massive Feeding Our Future COVID-related fraud scheme. More people were later charged in the case, which led to criticism of state leaders and a rare back-and-forth between Gov. Tim Walz and a Ramsey County judge. At least four defendants in the case have since pleaded guilty, and more developments in the case are likely next year.
Later in the month, prosecutors charged a dozen people for a cellphone theft ring that allegedly targeted people leaving bars. While most cases are still moving through the courts, one defendant was recently sentenced for his role in the ring.
In Richfield, a homecoming football game was abruptly halted after a shooting outside the stadium. Two teens were later arrested, and homecoming events at the school were canceled. While prosecutors confirmed charges against one teen, the case isn’t public because of the teen’s age. It was one of many incidents at local high school events in several weeks, which led several districts to update policies and increase security at events.
Communities rallied around the families of two high school football players who were seriously injured in games just a week apart. Ethan Glynn was paralyzed from the neck down and later moved to a Colorado hospital for specialized treatment as he continues his recovery. Conner Erickson also suffered a serious head injury and was hospitalized. Thankfully, he returned home earlier this month!
Other big stories in September:
- Three finalists for the Minneapolis police chief position were named. Mayor Jacob Frey later picked Brian O’Hara to lead the department, and he was confirmed and sworn in in November.
- A Forest Lake pastor apologized after seeking clemency for a convicted child molester, who was also sentenced that month.
- A shooting at the State Fairgrounds caused panic on one of the final nights of the fair. One person suffered minor injuries in the shooting.
- Health officials warned about the rise of enterovirus cases in children.
- Tom Barnard reflected on his career during a one-on-one interview ahead of his departure from KQRS.
- 5 INVESTIGATES’ “Where’s Katie?” report spurred anger and questions about why it took so long to find Kathleen “Katie” Norton’s body inside her home last year.
As Hurricane Ian hit the southeastern U.S., two Minnesota families with homes in Florida shared their accounts of the damage caused by the storm. The hurricane brought evacuees to Minnesota and almost brought a non-Vikings NFL game to Minneapolis. Like many states, Minnesota sent a team of first responders to help in the aftermath.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison filed a lawsuit against Fleet Farm, claiming the stores aided and abetted straw purchasers, which has been a key piece of the crime wave in the Twin Cities. The lawsuit specifically mentioned guns used in last year’s Truck Park Bar shooting in St. Paul.
The morning jury selection was supposed to start for the state trial of two former officers charged in George Floyd’s murder, J Alexander Kueng took a plea deal, while Tou Thao opted to have the judge decide his fate. Kueng was sentenced earlier this month while the judge is expected to rule on Thao’s case next year.
A deadly attack in Roseville led to a shelter-in-place order that was accidentally sent across the metro. Ultimately, a teenager was charged with attacking his family members and killing his grandmother. The county also said it was looking into how the alert was sent to a wider area than intended.
Other big stories in October:
- The man convicted of killing local baseball coach Jay Boughton last year was sentenced to life in prison.
- The mother of Daunte Wright’s son filed a lawsuit against his parents over GoFundMe donations.
- A 5 INVESTIGATES report showed Metro Transit repeatedly left a man with disabilities at the bus stop.
- The “One-Chip Challenge” prompted concerns from health officials.
- The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reported two state-record fish catches in Minnesota, one in Kandiyohi County and the other on lake Mille Lacs.
- Viewers got a kick out of a video that showed a runaway spool rolling on Interstate 35W. No injuries were reported, but a driver was cited.
The midterm election saw the DFL get a “trifecta” at the state level while Republicans won control of the House in Washington, D.C. The GOP elections also saw Minnesota Rep. Tom Emmer voted as the party whip. Not surprisingly, everyone was excited when the political ads stopped.
The fatal shooting at a Bloomington restaurant led to more heartbreak. The suspect was eventually arrested in Oklahoma and is now charged with murder. His next court hearing is scheduled for next year.
Other popular stories in November:
- Months after reaching a settlement, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman was again accused of retaliation. Freeman previously announced he wouldn’t seek reelection and he’ll now be replaced by Mary Moriarty in the new year.
- 5 INVESTIGATES got federal prosecutors to detail an “evil” fentanyl operation that killed a Minnesota professor.
- A Minnesota inmate was sentenced to federal prison for meth trafficking.
- Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison issued a formal opinion that prevents schools from giving students alternate meals due to lunch debt.
- The Powerball drawing was delayed due to a Minnesota sales processing verification issue.
A strong winter storm moved across the state as the holidays approached. After dumping more than a half-foot of snow across much of the Twin Cities and even more in other parts of the state, extreme cold moved in, creating very slick roads and blizzard-like conditions in many areas. Thousands of crashes and spinouts were reported across the state during the nearly weeklong event, and many travel plans were disrupted. Not nice, Mother Nature.
As many people were doing some last-minute Christmas shopping, a shooting at Mall of America killed a 19-year-old. The shooting restarted discussions about security at the mall. One adult and three juveniles have been formally charged in connection to the shooting.
5 INVESTIGATES reported on the city of New Hope’s decision to shut down group homes, which displaced people with disabilities. After the report, a state lawmaker said the story uncovered a “slippery slope.”
How ’bout them Vikings? Amid an already crazy season, the Vikings completed the largest comeback win in NFL history to clinch the division. Fans celebrated, and players explained how they made it happen. Could this be their season?
The latest state budget projection was released and forecast a massive $17.6 billion surplus. While many ideas are being thrown around for how to use the surplus, nothing is a sure bet and lawmakers will have a lot to sort out during the next legislative session.
Other big stories in December:
- 5 INVESTIGATES reported on how the state anticipated the wave of car thefts currently impacting Minnesota and state lawmakers’ decision to scrap a tool to fight that wave.
- A man described by authorities as “pro-mass shooting” and someone who wanted to “fight the police” was arrested and charged in Savage.
- The fatal police shooting of a man in St. Paul led to calls for a release of the video, which was eventually done. That investigation remains active.
- An Elk River teen made history as the first girl to ever score in the Prep Bowl.
- A Minnesota father used a suspect’s abandoned stolen vehicle to retrieve his vehicle, which was stolen while his kids were inside.
- The story of a Chanhassen family working to keep their son’s light shining after his death grabbed Minnesotans’ heartstrings.
Meanwhile, here are the 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS reports that were recipients of this year’s Regional Emmy Awards:
Find all of our 5 INVESTIGATES reports here.
CLICK HERE for a review of influential people who died in 2022.