North High students knew something was wrong Wednesday morning.
Kristopher Miller, a member of the Minneapolis school's support staff, wasn't there to greet them with the hugs, handshakes and fist bumps that were part of his daily routine with them.
Miller, 27, had been found shot to death after midnight on the front porch of his apartment in the 1100 block of Irving Avenue N., a few blocks south of North High, his alma mater.
Minneapolis police arrested a 40-year-old man, an associate minister at a north Minneapolis church, Wednesday in connection with the killing. The suspect surrendered to police at his home without a struggle and was booked at the Hennepin County jail on suspicion of murder.
He has yet to be charged. Police Sgt. Stephen McCarty declined to discuss a possible motive for the shooting. The Star Tribune generally does not name suspects before charges are filed.
Minneapolis schools Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson, a longtime friend of Miller's mother, went to the school Wednesday to console grieving students and staff. A profound sorrow has swept over the school, she said.
"They're trying to figure out how to deal with their grief," Johnson said from his mother's home. "People are sad."
Miller is survived by two daughters, ages 9 and 2, his mother, father and several siblings.
"I have never seen a young man love his daughters like he did," said a cousin, Chanda Smith Baker. "They deserved to have him longer, and that was completely taken away."
A lifelong north Minneapolis resident and 2002 North High graduate, Miller returned there in 2005 as a member of the school's support staff.
"He loved North," said his mother, Mardella Milton, a retired Minneapolis principal.
Each morning, Miller stood at the school entrance warmly greeting students, almost all by name, North High Principal Peter Christensen said.
"He knew everybody," Christensen said. "He had that kind of connection."
When Christensen came to North in March, he leaned heavily on Miller to help him adjust. The two last spoke Tuesday afternoon as they watched students board buses for home.
"He was a totally unflappable kind of guy," Christensen said.
During his time at North, Miller had also coached sports and worked as a family liaison.
"Kris was respected professionally and embraced personally," Superintendent Johnson wrote in an e-mail to North High parents and supporters. "He will be missed by his students, friends and staff at North and throughout the school district."
Miller recently earned an associate degree in criminal justice from Minneapolis Community and Technical College.
Late Wednesday afternoon, police had yet to present the case to the county attorney's office for consideration of charges, McCarty said.
According to county and state records, the suspect was convicted of disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor, and of attempted theft, a gross misdemeanor, in recent years. The latter case involved a theft-by-swindle allegation, records show.
Milton last saw her son alive about 10:30 p.m. Tuesday, when he stopped by to feed his dog. Two hours later, she stood over him and wept as he lay dead on the apartment porch.
"I feel a great weight," Milton said. "It wasn't their right to take him away. They took away somebody who was a real asset to the North Side."
Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-692-8477.