Lawrence Wajda charged with meth possession in Mpls fire house

Lawrence Anthony Wajda Jr., a veteran Minneapolis firefighter, was charged with possession of methamphetamine Wednesday after police found .5 grams of the drug with him at work.

Wadja, who has worked at the department for more than 20 years, faces felony fifth-degree drug possession.

"It's unfortunate," says Mark Lakosky, fire union president. "We don't condone this bullshit."

Armed with a warrant, Minneapolis police searched the fire house in Stadium Village, near the University of Minnesota's East Bank campus, on Tuesday. After finding the meth on Wajda, officers searched his sleeping area, and found one pill of Ecstasy in a luggage bag.

Autumn Marie Ronning, a woman at the firehouse, fessed up to the pill.

Ronning isn't a firefighter, but was apparently hanging out at the firehouse when the officers showed up. Police searched Ronning, and found another .2 grams of meth and eight pills of Suboxone, a prescription opioid medication.

Ronning was charged with three counts of fifth-degree possession. Both had first-appearance hearings scheduled this morning.

Update [11:45 a.m.]:

Wajda is still employed by the fire department, "but that status is subject to change as the investigation moves forward," says Asst. Chief Cherie Penn in an email.

Here's the full statement from newly appoint Chief John Fruetel:

"As the new Fire Chief I am deeply concerned and disappointed to hear such allegations. 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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