Officer Melissa Schmidt was killed in the line of duty Aug. 1, 2002. (Minneapolis Police Department photo)

As the investigation into this week’s shooting death of Mendota Heights police officer Scott Patrick continues,  Minneapolis police officers are remembering the loss of one of their own killed in the line of duty 12 years ago today. Officer Melissa Schmidt was fatally wounded by a suspect in the bathroom of a public housing high rise on the evening of Aug. 1, 2002.  According to police, Schmidt managed to return fire and kill 60-year-old Martha Donald during the confrontation.  Schmidt, 35, was a Marine veteran who’d been on the force for 6 years.

Spencer Cronk, who has led the State Department of Administration since 2011, got the nod Tuesday as Mayor Betsy Hodges’ nominee for city coordinator.

Spencer Cronk is Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges’ nominee for city coordinator. Courtesy of the State Department of Administration

The coordinator oversees the city’s finance, human resources, information technology and communications departments. Also under the coordinator are such disparate services as animal control, emergency management and lobbying.

The Department of Administration has some similarities to the coordinator’s role in that it handles a variety of back-office functions for state government. It provides bulk purchasing, construction management and state employee workers compensation insurance, among other services.

Leaving a cabinet-level position at the state for one at the city might seem like a step down, but Cronk would manage almost 700 employees as city coordinator, up from 450 in his current job.

The coordinator job has a starting salary of $143,181 — a nice pay bump from the $119,517 Cronk earns now.

If confirmed by the city council, Cronk would succeed Paul Aasen, who left in May. Aasen also came to the city from state government, where he was the commissioner of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

Four of the five people indicted in U.S. District Court earlier this year in an alleged gun straw purchasing conspiracy have pleaded guilty.  Last week, Keniko Bland, 20, pleaded guilty to illegally receiving a firearm. And earlier this month, Diontre Hill, 21, and Raheem Watkins, 21, both pleaded guilty to charges of being felons in possession of firearms.  Prosecutors say the men are gang members with criminal records which prohibit them from legally possessing guns.

Two women, 32-year-old Angela Carter and 29-year-old Jacquelyn Burnes, allegedly acted as “straw buyers” when they bought the guns for the three men. According to the indictments, Carter and Burnes lied when they filled out forms at gun stores because they claimed they were buying the guns for themselves.

Burnes pleaded guilty to one count of “false statement during purchase of a firearm.” Carter is scheduled to appear at a plea hearing later this week.   The maximum federal penalty for providing a gun to a felon is 10 years in prison.  Sentencing dates have not yet been set.