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Kjersten Schladetzky, a 39-year-old mother, posted a Facebook photo of her family during the Thanksgiving break. In the snapshot, the Minnesota woman and her two sons — one of whom was wearing a Batman T-shirt — all grinned widely for the camera.
The photo was uploaded on Saturday at 6:36 p.m. But hours later, Kjersten and her two boys were dead, all allegedly fatally shot by the woman’s ex-husband, David Schladetzky, in what police said is a triple murder-suicide.
Around 10 a.m. the next morning, police were called to the woman’s home in south Minneapolis after reports of gunfire. Kjersten's two pre-teen boys, David William Schladetzky, 11, and Nelson Schladetzky, 8, were found unresponsive on the home’s snow-blanketed front lawn, steps from the main door. The brothers were rushed to squad cars and later pronounced dead.
However, gunshots continued to be heard from inside the family’s home, police said. A SWAT team and crisis negotiators unsuccessfully attempted to reach anyone inside. A robot was eventually deployed, which located the bodies of Kjersten as well as her ex-husband, who coroners said suffered from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Kjersten and her two sons’ killings were also ruled homicides on Tuesday, according to a medical examiner’s report obtained by Oxygen.com.
“These officers went into an area where there was gunfire, and with no cover, no concern for their own safety, they went out and scooped up two gravely injured youth,” John Elder, a spokesperson for the Minneapolis Police Department, told Oxygen.com. “Anybody who holds a child while they die, that lives with you forever — and it will.”
A family neighbor reportedly also witnessed the slaying of Kjersten's sons first-hand.
Erik Wiltscheck, 51, who lives next door, told Oxygen.com how he watched in horror as his neighbor’s sons ran outside wearing backpacks and “screaming bloody murder.” He said the boys appeared to have been grazed by gunfire before collapsing on the front lawn. Wiltscheck then claimed the children’s father “hovered over” the two injured boys on the front lawn gun-in-hand.
“He looked at me, and just looked down at his kid, and he shot him in the throat, and chest area and shot his other kid one more time,” Wiltscheck told Oxygen.com.
The next door neighbor said he was accustomed to seeing the two brothers playing catch with tennis balls outside the family’s home, so when he first saw the two boys bolt out the front door, he suspected the brothers were up to some horseplay.
“They came out a little bit and were screaming and went back in,” he recalled. “I thought it was a game that they were playing because they’re always running around and jumping in the snow and full of life. And then ‘bam, bam.’”
Wiltscheck, who described David and Nelson as “little stinkers” who were “full of life and hopes and dreams,” has since started a memorial on the family’s porch.
Elder, the Minneapolis police spokesperson, said Sunday’s shooting marks the second domestic-related murder case in Minneapolis since Thanksgiving evening.
“When the most vulnerable in our society are victimized, it seems more difficult to deal with,” the police spokesperson added. “As we enter into the holiday season, emotions tend to run higher and tempers can flare. We encourage people to remove themselves from dangerous situations and seek help.”
Police said there had been no reports of past domestic incidents at the couple’s home and online court records show that her ex-husband, David, doesn’t appear to have a criminal history apart from a handful of traffic citations.
However, Kjersten filed for divorce from her spouse in November 2018, according to civil court documents obtained by Oxygen.com. The divorce was finalized in June.
Schladetzky worked as the director of consulting for Tessitura Network, a non-profit technology company that provides software for arts and cultural organizations such as theaters, performing arts centers, museums, zoos, and aquariums.
“We are completely shocked, stunned, and devastated by this tragedy,” Jack Rubin, Tessitura Network’s CEO and co-founder, told Oxygen.com. “There are no words. Kjersten was respected across the company. She was a kind, thoughtful, and talented colleague with enormous contributions to our company and across the arts and cultural sectors that we served.”
Rubin described the Minnesota woman as a “great mom” and a “positive role model,” who “shined a light on every person that she touched.” He said she had been with the company for roughly five years.
“There was never a challenge that she couldn’t meet,” he added. “She supported and encouraged everyone that was around her to do their best and also to be strong people.”
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