MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — For many in south Minneapolis, it’s hard if not impossible to describe the terrible sadness and shock in wake of Sunday’s triple homicide and suicide.
The horrific scene played out around 10 a.m. Sunday at the home on the 2700 block of Oakland Avenue South. Neighbors witnessed two boys, ages 8 and 11, as they were shot out on the yard by their 53-year-old father, David Schladetzky.
David and Kjersten Schladetzky, 39, were recently divorced; it was finalized in Hennepin County court on June 20. The couple agreed to joint custody of their two boys.
Neighbor Erik Wiltscheck says he saw David shoot his sons, William and Nelson, in the front yard with their backpacks on. Wiltscheck was begging Schladetzky to stop.
“I had no doubt it was the dad when I was on the 911 [call]. I was saying, ‘The dad’s shooting his kids,’” Wiltscheck said. “I will relive this over and over and over again.”
David then went inside and shot Kjersten, before turning the gun on himself.
Neighbor Eric Stiver saw the aftermath from his bedroom window.
“That was the hardest, seeing that, them laying out in the snow,” Stiver said.
The shooting led to a standoff with police officers and SWAT teams, lasting several hours. Crime scene investigators and detectives were at the scene well into the night, hours after the tragic incident came to its conclusion.
Dozens of people gathered outside of the home Monday evening for a vigil organized by the outreach group A Mother’s Love.
“God, we need you to send the spirit of comfort right now,” said K.G. Wilson of A Mother’s Love. “Lord God, we just come to you right now, God, with broken hearts.”
Confusion, anger, sadness are just a few of the emotions motivating this group to grieve together over the loss of a family to domestic-related gun violence. Several Minneapolis Police officers attended the vigil, including Sgt. Deitan Dubuc.
“I responded [Sunday] and I was on scene for a few hours. And I have kids myself. It touched all of us,” Dubuc said.
Trying to understand how someone could kill their family members, especially kids, weighed on so many in the neighborhood.
“That was the first thing I thought about, too,” said Wilson. “I was like ‘Oh my God,’ I couldn’t imagine this being like one of my grandchildren or one of my children.”
A Mother’s Love organized the vigil in part to raise awareness about domestic violence issues, such as the fatal shooting of a woman in north Minneapolis on Thanksgiving. Lisa Clemons of A Mother’s Love said that victim was gunned down in front of her 2-year-old daughter.
“Now we stand on this very spot where a mom, regardless of her color, was gunned down with her children,” Clemons said. “What do we do about that? What do we say to our kids?”
It’s a conversation the Minneapolis Police Department is ready to help guide, noting that chaplains are available to those who need one, especially those who witnessed the shooting.
“I think the most important part is for people to understand they’re not alone, and it’s important to come out and reach out for the help because we’re here,” said Sgt. Dubuc.
WCCO contacted Kjersten Schladetzky’s employer of the past five years, Tessitura Network. It is a nonprofit company providing software services to museums, art galleries and other institutions. CEO Jack Rubin gave this statement to WCCO:
We are completely shocked, stunned and saddened. Kjersten was a kind and thoughtful colleague, a mentor to many. So well respected and valued across the company. Our thoughts are with her family. We are completely shocked and stunned, saddened. Kjersten was a kind and thoughtful colleague, a mentor to many. So well respected and valued across the company. Our thoughts are with her family.
Minneapolis Public Schools can’t confirm the boys were students, but said that in tragedies of this nature, they do provide counseling and grief support help to the affected students and staff.
For those suffering from depression and suicidal thoughts, there is help available at the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. Call 1-800-273-8255.
Also available is the hotline from the National Alliance on Mental Illness at 651-645-2948.
The Twin Cities also has several crisis lines: