Reporting Esme Murphy
ST. LOUIS PARK, Minn. (WCCO) — Police said a man and his estranged wife are dead after an apparent murder-suicide.
Officers said it started Monday night when the woman was shot to death in a parking lot along Highway 100 and Cedar Lake Road in St. Louis Park. She has been identified as 51-year-old Stephanie Maxam. The man’s identity has not been released.
Police said witnesses heard Maxam and her estranged husband arguing in the parking lot around 8 p.m. when the man opened fire.
“(We) arrived to find an adult female dead of multiple gunshot wounds. Apparently a witness did hear gunshots and then saw that the victim was in the parking lot,” said St. Louis Park Spokesman Jamie Zwilling. “We began a search immediately for her estranged husband.”
The man was found a short time later lying near a curb in Minneapolis. He was dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, police said.
Officers recovered what appears to be a shotgun at the scene, at 37th Street Northeast and Hiawatha in Minneapolis. But police aren’t saying if it was the weapon used to kill the woman.
Officers said they also found an envelope with a handwritten note inside. It wasn’t released what the note said.
Police say it is fortunate that bystanders were not hit and no one else was injured.
“It’s a scary thing because we are in the parking lot a lot and sometimes we do leave around 8 at night,” said Nichole Knutson.
On Monday night, however, Knutson left the Parkdale Plaza before 8 p.m. When she came back Tuesday morning, she heard that a man had shot and killed a woman and drove away.
According to court records, Maxam and her husband went through a divorce in 2006.
The story hits home at the Harriet Tubman Center, which offers assistance for victims of domestic violence. Experts say they hope tragedies like this are a reminder that one-in-four women is a victim of domestic violence in her lifetime.
“Domestic violence reports are up, fatalities are actually down. One could look at that and say absolutely, all of the prevention messages on how to get help and how to give help are being heard,” said Jen Polzin, of the Tubman Center.
Harriet Tubman is in the process of locating one of their centers to a former monastery in Maplewood. In January, there will be beds for 64 victims of domestic violence and their families.