Eagan police shot and killed a 37-year-old man who was sitting in his car firing a handgun into the air and toward an apartment building Sunday.
The man, who was identified by neighbors and court records as Justin Kulhanek-Derks, was pronounced dead at the scene.
The first 911 call came at 11:58 a.m. Sunday, about a man shooting outside the Forest Ridge apartments in the 1200 block of Ironwood Lane.
Officers arrived and there was “an exchange of gunfire,” said Eagan police spokesman Aaron Machtemes.
Asked if the man had fired directly at police, Machtemes said, “I don’t know at this time. The officers and the suspect were shooting, is what I’m trying to say.”
Machtemes said this was the first officer-involved shooting in Eagan that resulted in a death since 1992 and the first officer-involved shooting at all in recent years. He also said he was unsure whether police and the suspect had had any previous contact.
He said it’s not clear whether more than one officer fired at Kulhanek-Derks, though three officers were placed on administrative leave, which is standard procedure in such cases. The state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is assisting in the investigation.
Randy Nelson, who lives across the street, said the noon Vikings game had just started when he heard “pop-pop-pop-pop.” At first, he said, he thought it was a nail gun. Then he heard another “pop-pop-pop” and a neighbor came out and told him it was gunshots.
Neighbors Laura and Ken Scott said Kulhanek-Derks and his daughter have lived at the Forest Ridge apartment complex for about a year. The Scotts’ daughter, Alexis, is a close friend and classmate of Kulhanek-Derks' daughter. Both girls are 10th-graders. Kulhanek-Derks was a divorced, single dad, said Laura Scott.
His record includes only minor offenses: two convictions for trespassing and one DWI from 1998.
Kulhanek-Derks had been engaged until his fiancée recently broke off the relationship, Laura Scott said. He was despondent and heartbroken, she said, and had been drinking a lot lately.
His daughter and her grandmother showed up at the apartment complex shortly after the shooting. A witness said she saw the teenager try to get to her father’s car, crying “Dad! Dad!” But the girl was held back by an officer.
Laura Scott said she and Alexis comforted the sobbing girl until she and her grandmother left the scene. Alexis, too, had tears running down her cheeks hours later.
“He was like a dad to me,” she said.
Squads and officers from Eagan, Lilydale, Apple Valley, the State Patrol and the BCA were at the scene Sunday afternoon. The body remained in the driver’s seat of a blue Ford sedan. The Hennepin County medical examiner’s officer will perform the autopsy and will release the official cause and manner of death, as well as the name.
Trudy Hill said she has lived at the Forest Ridge complex for five years.
“It’s a wonderful area,” she said. “That’s why it’s so disturbing. This stuff doesn’t happen here. But obviously it does.”