MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Brian Short is dead Thursday in an apparent murder-suicide, along with his wife, Karen, and their three children.

Friends describe Short as a well-known businessman building a successful website for the nursing field. We spoke with some of them as they remembered a down-to-earth guy who was always there for his friends.

On his company’s website, Short says he taught himself to be a web programmer while he worked as a cardiac nurse.

He launched AllNurses.com in the ’90s. It’s now the largest online nursing community in the world.

Short had moved his home business two years ago to an office in an old school house in Excelsior.

Employees told WCCO they had no comment, but AllNurses.com released a statement on the incident late Thursday evening.

“No matter what the details are, the results are still the same,” the statement says. “A very tragic loss for the extended families, friends, co-workers, and this nursing community.”

Before they moved into this Lake Minnetonka home a few years ago, the Short’s spent 13 years in Lakeville.

Dave and Kari Smits remained close friends.

“What a great family,” Dave Smits said.

The Smits girls grew up with the Shorts’ three children.

On Sunday, Dave Smits sent a text message to Brian Short and grew worried after he didn’t hear back.

“Normally Brian is very techy — on Facebook, social media,” he said, “For him to not respond…”

Then, they saw the Shorts’ home on the news.

“I went down on one knee,” Dave Smits said. “I couldn’t believe it.”

Friends say they were beyond generous and threw the best parties.

“They were never showy,” Jodie Gorence, a former neighbor, said. “They were down-to-earth people. Wealthy people who were down to earth.”

Two neighborhoods are now wondering what they missed.

“Whatever the reason is,” Gorence said, “I hope they’re in a better place right now.”

The Minnetonka High School principal emailed a statement to parents Thursday night. It says the district wants to respect the family’s privacy and allow family and friends to grieve privately.

“Our Minnetonka High School family is devastated by the tragic deaths of a family in our community,” the statement reads. “Because we are a close-knit community, this is will be very upsetting for students, parents and staff alike.”

The school also wants parents to contact them if they’d like their child to see a counselor to talk about what happened.

Liz Collin