New Hope City Hall gunman had troubled past

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Screenshot of council meeting video
A screen shot of New Hope City Council meeting video where shots were fired outside council chambers.
Courtesy KARE 11
Ray Kmetz spoke before the city council in 2014
Ray Kmetz spoke before the New Hope City Council in August 2014.
New Hope City Council video | File 2014

Updated: 7:16 p.m., Jan. 27 | Posted: 10 p.m., Jan. 26

Raymond Kmetz, the man killed after opening fire at New Hope City Hall Monday night and wounding two officers, had a history of confronting government and the law, including an incident where he allegedly turned a bulldozer on an officer.

"He was a landscaping contractor and then when the recession come, he basically went out of business, and that's when he started getting these delusions or whatever about he was mistreated by the cities and the police department," said Kmetz's brother, who asked that his first name not be used.

The Hennepin County Sheriff's Office Tuesday identified the two injured New Hope police officers as Joshua Eernisse and Beau Schoenhard.

A statement from the sheriff's office said both officers received medical treatment and were released from an area hospital Tuesday. The statement said the officers are doing well after suffering non-life threatening injuries.

Schoenhard and Eernisse were shot outside the New Hope City Council chambers. Eernisse had been celebrating his 1st anniversary with the New Hope PD. Other officers had been sworn in that night.

Joshua Eernisse
Joshua Eernisse, pictured here in 2008, was sworn in as a New Hope police officer in 2015.
Mason City Police Department / The Mason City Globe Gazette 2008

The sheriff's office said Kmetz began firing at the officers as they left the council chambers. Police returned fire, killing the 68-year-old.

Kmetz died of multiple gunshot wounds, according to the Hennepin County Medical Examiner.

Records show Kmetz had extensive run-ins with the law over the years with arrests including assault, stalking, making terroristic threats, burglary, and property damage.

He also believed that police were harassing him. In a lawsuit dismissed in 2011, Kmetz claimed he was being investigated by police for insurance fraud tied to one of his commercial properties and that officers in an unmarked vehicle had threatened him, then stunned him unconscious with a Taser and beat him.

New Hope, Minn.
New Hope, Minn.
Google Maps

In August 2014, the neighboring suburb of Crystal filed a request for a restraining order against Kmetz.

According to a police report, one of Kmetz's brothers warned Crystal police that Raymond told him he "was very upset with the City of Crystal with the fact that they were not giving his property back and he was going to bring a shotgun or gun and retrieve his property and that 'he probably wouldn't be back.'"

Raymond Kmetz falsely believed the city had his guns, Deputy Chief Michael Meehan stated in the petition.

Kmetz's brother informed police about Raymond's "long history, some being violent," with the city.

The brother also warned them that Kmetz had been in and out of the Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter and an Anoka mental hospital, and was off his medication. He was released in 2013.

At an August 2014 city council meeting, Kmetz said he had lived in New Hope for about 40 years, but that he had become homeless. According to the Hennepin County Medical Examiner, Kmetz lived in Belle Plaine, a town about 40 miles southwest of New Hope, at the time of his death this week.

In 2008, Kmetz was part of an eviction proceeding, in which a judge ordered him not to visit the property on the 5200 block of Douglas Drive.

That evening, a police officer found Kmetz in a bulldozer knocking down the building, according to the petition.

Kmetz allegedly turned the bulldozer toward the officer and tried to chase him down, prompting the officer to draw his gun. Police arrested Kmetz, and he was charged with assault and criminal property damage.

Last August, Raymond Kmetz came to the New Hope City Council saying again that officials were harassing him, that they had cost him his marriage and that he was now homeless.

Video: Kmetz comments at an Aug. 11, 2014, city council meeting

The sound of gunshots Monday night sent members scrambling to the floor.

In a video of the meeting, council member John Elder, who is also a spokesman for the Minneapolis Police Department, is heard to say "Get down, everybody get down." Then another person says, "That went right through the door. Somebody got shot." Some council members are seen ducking down behind the desk as muffled shouts are heard in the background.

The video also shows Elder pulling out a gun and aiming it at the door.

Video: Kmetz opens fire at a Jan. 26, 2015 city council meeting

Mayor Kathi Hemken was in the council chambers when the shooting happened. She said it unfolded in a matter of seconds.

"We heard the noise, the gun being shot, and then it was just 'Get down' and that's just what we did," she said.

She said Elder, along with council member Eric Lammle, a detective with the Richfield Police Department, kept the chambers safe as police outside secured the area. She said 10 minutes after the shooting, everyone in the chambers was escorted to the fire department.

Hemken said she never felt unsafe with 15 to 20 officers who were on hand for the swearing-in, and she's pleased with how they responded.

"I am so proud of my police force. This is a group of folks that went from a joyous occasion to a very somber occasion in a matter of just seconds."

On Tuesday, Raymond Kmetz's son, Nathan, told KARE 11 that the family had grown increasingly alarmed about Raymond's behavior.

"The social worker that he had for four years, I called her and I said, 'You know you gotta do something, he's getting to extremes where he's mad, and something has to be done,'" Nathan said. "She said, 'I can't do anything. He's not my client any more, blah, blah, blah.'

"I said, 'Well, something happens, it's on your hands, because I called you, and I don't know what else to do.'"

MPR News reporters Peter Cox, Riham Feshir and Brandt Williams contributed to this report.

Correction: This article previously stated that Officer Eernisse was sworn in the night he was shot. In fact, he had been an officer for a year at the time of the shooting.

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