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Mpls Fire Station Searched, Firefighter Arrested in Drug Probe | Crime

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Mpls Fire Station Searched, Firefighter Arrested in Drug Probe

An on-duty Minneapolis firefighter was arrested during the execution of a search warrant at his fire station Tuesday, along with two other people, part of an "ongoing investigation" involving narcotics, according to people familiar with the probe.

Lawrence Anthony Wajda, Jr, 42, of Coon Rapids, a member of the Minneapolis Fire Department since 1991, was booked into the Hennepin County Jail shortly after noon.

He's currently being held on a narcotics charge with no bail after police say they found suspected methamphetamine inside the fire house.

Minneapolis police officers served the warrant on Fire Station 19 at 200 Ontario Ave SE at the University of Minnesota East Bank campus Tuesday morning.

Officers also arrested Autumn Ronning, 33, after finding her with suspected ecstacy pills. Ronning is being held not only on the narcotics charge, but also on a felony arrest warrant from Ramsey county and an arrest warrant from Anoka county, according to online jail records and the Ramsey County Sheriff's Office.

Outside the fire house, police arrested another man who was found in a car with suspected marijuana, authorities said. He was later cited and released.

Fire Chief John Fruetel, in a statement to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS Tuesday afternoon, said he was "deeply concerned and disappointed," to learn of the allegations.

"I expect that personnel in this department maintain the highest professional and ethical standards," the statement continued.

"Unfortunately it is cases like this where the actions of a single individual can cast a shadow on the entire department.”

Wajda, Jr, makes $64,000 a year as a firefighter with the Minneapolis Fire Department, according to city spokesman Matt Laible, and was hired on Sept. 6, 1991.

Wajda, Jr, was not on leave as of Tuesday afternoon, although Laible noted that his employment status, "is subject to change."

Police said they had "no information" that Wajda's case was connected with any other firefighter, including Brandon Granger.

Granger was charged last year in federal court with trying to sell five kilograms of cocaine. He entered a plea of not guilty.

In an apparent coincidence, there's a change of plea hearing scheduled in Granger's case.

Prosecutors have until tomorrow to charge or release Granger.



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