MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The 21-year-old son of an Elk River police officer has been charged with murder in the shooting deaths of his father and older brother.
Chris Besser, who was remorseful in court Tuesday morning, faces two counts of second-degree murder. He waived his Miranda rights after being arrested, telling police he fatally shot 49-year-old Todd Besser and 27-year-old Blake Besser in their St. Michael home on Saturday.
According to a criminal complaint, Chris Besser surrendered to authorities shortly after the shootings at a nearby gas station. He told officers he “did it,” adding that he and his father weren’t getting along and he “just lost it.”
Wright County Attorney Tom Kelly said the two had a “strained relationship.”
In a statement to police, Chris Besser told officers that after getting into an argument with his father on Saturday evening, he brooded on the couch before grabbing a .30-30 lever action rifle from the gun cabinet and going to the basement. His father was down there, sitting at the computer, and Chris Besser said he shot him in the back of the head.
Later, when his older brother came home, Chris Besser said he shot him in the abdomen as the 27-year-old entered from the garage. Blake Besser called 911 before dying, and told authorities that his younger brother had shot him.
When asked why he killed his brother, Chris Besser told police he couldn’t leave a witness, the complaint states.
If convicted of both charges, Chris Besser faces a maximum sentence of 80 years in prison. He has a criminal history with convictions for marijuana possession, a traffic violation and a DWI. His next court date is set for 1 p.m. on May 22.
Bail was set for him Tuesday at $5 million without conditions, $2 million with firearm and drug restrictions.
The county attorney said officials are looking into the possibility of alcohol being a factor, but said after the shootings that Chris Besser was “coherent.”
Todd Besser was a 16-year veteran of the Elk River Police Department, and he remarried about a year-and-a-half ago. Recently, he worked as a school liaison officer in the Elk River School District.
His widow, Gwen Besser, was in court on Tuesday. She made a brief statement to reporters.
“All I’m asking for is prayer, healing, grace, and forgiveness,” she said.
The couple were living in Ostego. They met through work, Gwen Besser was a dispatcher in Sherburne County. Neighbors say Todd Besser would check in on his boys at his former home.
The funeral for Todd and Blake Besser is scheduled for Sunday. The public is welcome to a visitation at Elk River High School, which starts at 11 a.m.
A memorial fund has been set up in Todd Besser’s name at the Bank of Elk River, which is located at 633 Main Street.