A man with a history of business setbacks in California drove into the parking lot behind the city of St. Anthony Police Department on Tuesday morning, got out and shot himself in the chest with a shotgun.

Robert Hockert, 70, having recently returned to the state of his youth, shot himself at about 8:40 a.m., said Police Chief John Ohl. "Other than stating that he shot himself, no other statements were made by Mr. Hockert," Ohl said.

Hockert was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center, Ohl said. He was in critical condition.

Ohl said that "from where he shot himself, it's amazing that we didn't hear it." The police department, 3301 Silver Lake Road, is in a complex of buildings that includes city hall.

A passerby saw the wounded man and called 911, police said.

Hockert has no connection to the police department and was not under investigation in St. Anthony, Ohl said, adding that Hockert was the only person involved in the incident.

Sally Hockert, who is married to Hockert's brother, said that Robert and his wife had just moved in with them in their St. Anthony home because of his financial difficulties.

The sister-in-law said Robert and Maria Hockert chose to move to the Twin Cities because it was where he grew up and where he had grown children and other relatives.

"They just moved back from California, looking for a job, which is difficult to find," Sally Hockert said. "Then depression issues definitely entered into this."

Hockert owned Pacific Coast Molding in Santa Ana, Calif., until slightly less than two years ago, said Marc Leever, who bought the company from him.

"My understanding is that he has owned a multitude of companies -- in the tool and die and plastics manufacturing business -- some of which went out of business or filed bankruptcy," Leever said.

Federal court records in California show that Hockert filed for Chapter 7 business bankruptcy in 2007. The liquidation case was wrapped up three years later, according to the records.

Leever said he still has pending business dealings with Hockert and had last heard from him the previous summer when he was among many who received an e-mail expressing how happy he was living with his wife in her home country of Mexico.

"This is a total shock to me," Leever said of the shooting. "I know he has family [in Minnesota]. It's very unfortunate that his life has come to a place where he thought that was the only way out."

Matt McKinney • 612-217-1747 Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482