What made a Crystal man aim a gun at police?

Hennepin County prosecutor Mike Freeman announced Wednesday he will not file charges against a New Hope police officer who shot and killed Ronald Klitzka in November 2017.

“Criminal charges are not supported by evidence or appropriate under law in this case,” Freeman said in a statement.

Still, the narrative of events in Freeman’s press release Wednesday makes the word “tragedy” insufficient to describe what happened.

According to the investigation by the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, on Nov. 6, 2017, the 62-year-old Klitzka went to his brother’s house in Brooklyn Park because he had not heard from his brother in some time. When he entered the house, he found his brother dead from a self-inflicted gunshot.

Klitzka called police and was visibly upset when they arrived, saying he would kill himself.

Klitzka was taken to North Memorial Medical Center for evaluation. Medical records indicated that Klitzka was not suicidal, but blamed himself for his brother’s death because he had not given him money when he asked for it and because his brother used one of Klitzka’s guns to kill himself.

Four days later, Klitzka and his wife ran some errands and returned to their home at 5128 Angeline Ave. North, Crystal, but she told officers he was acting strangely, so she told him to check his blood sugar as Klitzka was diabetic.

A short time later, he joined his wife in the kitchen carrying a bottle of alcohol. She told him to stop drinking or she would call police. He countered by telling her to get out of the house. She noticed Klitzka was holding a gun, so she left.

Police were called and a perimeter was established. Klitzka’s step-daughter went to the command post and reported that Klitzka was making threatening statements and saying he wanted to be shot by police officers.

Crystal, Robbinsdale and New Hope police all came to the scene and they began evacuating neighbors from their homes.

Klitzka made a number of phone calls during this time, including to 911. He said he was going to shoot everyone. Another time, he said he would come out with guns blazing.

He also called a hospice service where he had once been a patient, looking for a chaplain. The nurse called police and said Klitzka had said he wanted to be shot by police.

While Klitzka was making these and other phone calls, two Crystal and two New Hope officers began moving toward Klitzka’s house.

They could hear Klitzka and he sounded angry and erratic. They could also see a red laser beam moving in time with his movements, leading them to believe it was a laser sight on a gun. They also heard him fire two and maybe three shots in his garage.

At the same time, Officer Harty, a trained sniper on the New Hope SWAT unit, moved into a position south of Klitzka’s house. He tracked Klitzka through the scope of his gun.

Officer Harty saw Klitzka come out of the garage, raise his arm and point the red laser beam at Officer Harty and other officers near him. The men had limited cover, so Officer Harty fired one shot, which struck Klitzka in the head.

When the approach team reached him, they found three handguns near him.

(h/t: Paul Tosto)

  • Tragic, but where do we start? The guns in both households where there was mental instability and/or alcohol abuse? The medical evaluation that somehow couldn’t be followed up with counseling? The way American society has no consistent way to deal with stuff like this? One thing is certain: If firearms are readily available in a situation where someone is suicidal, the likelihood of death is higher than if no firearms are around.

    • Erik Petersen

      Oh, I’m sure these cops would have shot him if he’d been waving around a mere butter knife in an animated fashion.