On Tuesday morning Minneapolis Police served a search warrant at Fire Station 19 at 200 Ontario Ave SE at the University of Minnesota East Bank. A 20-year veteran firefighter was arrested along with a woman who was with him at the firehouse and a man who was parked in a car nearby. Police called it part of an ongoing drug investigation. News reports indicate the firefighter had a previous run in with another police agency over drugs.
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.
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.
Suspected methamphetamine was found on Wajda at the time of his arrest, according to police. A 33-year-old New Hope woman, who is not a firefighter, was also arrested at the station in possession of suspected Ecstasy, McCarty said. A 37-year-old St. Paul man found with suspected marijuana in a nearby vehicle also was taken into custody but later released. Wajda and the woman were in the Hennepin County jail on Tuesday night.
Police photo of Firefighter Lawrence Wajda Jr.
This is at least the second time Wajda has been in trouble over drug charges. Next month, he goes on trial in Anoka County in connection with a traffic stop where he was allegedly found with marijuana and a meth pipe on him.
Statement from Minneapolis Fire Chief John Fruetel:
I expect that personnel in this department maintain the highest professional and ethical standards. I have no doubt that the women and men of the Minneapolis Fire Department serve the people of this city with courage, integrity and respect. Unfortunately it is cases like this where the actions of a single individual can cast a shadow on the entire department.
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