Nicholas Roecker apparently was battling depression when high school friend Kayla Koranda went to visit him Monday afternoon at his home outside Rochester, officials said.
Now both college freshmen are dead in what authorities believe was a murder-suicide.
“The depth of their relationship is still not known at this time,” the Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement. “However, it is believed that they were just friends.”
Sheriff David Mueller said his investigators believe that Roecker is the one who fired the fatal shots from a handgun, which was recovered at the scene.
Koranda and Roecker had been communicating earlier in the day, and “we know from family that the woman was just going to visit him due to his depression or that sort of thing,” Mueller added.
“We’re still waiting to see if we can get into cellphones and additional information that may be available about what motive there was,” he said. “We don’t know a lot of what led up to what happened at the scene.”
Roecker, 19, attended the University of Minnesota Duluth. Koranda, 18, attended the University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities campus.
Roecker was a science and engineering student living at UMD’s Griggs Hall. Koranda was a liberal arts student residing at Middlebrook Hall.
The schools have been on winter break.
Both were 2013 graduates of Lourdes High School, a private Catholic school in Rochester, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
They also graduated from the K-8 Holy Spirit Catholic School, according to Rochester Catholic Schools, which issued a statement late Tuesday asking for prayers for the families. The organization, which runs Lourdes, Holy Spirit and other Catholic schools in the area, said a crisis team was available for students as well as graduates and parents.
Lourdes classmate Rachel Morice said Roecker and Koranda were good friends who used to hang around in the same social circle in high school. Morice said she knew Roecker because she had a lot of classes with him. She described him as shy, nice, smart and helpful.
Both were well-liked, she said, and the news of their deaths was shocking.
Sheriff’s deputies answered a medical call shortly after 4 p.m. Monday at the home in the 6900 block of 100th Street NW. in New Haven Township, about 20 miles north of Rochester.
Koranda was found dead in a shed on the property. Roecker was found wounded in the shed and taken to Mayo Clinic Hospital-Rochester, where he died, the Sheriff’s Office said.
Danita Brown Young, vice provost for student affairs and dean of students at the Twin Cities campus, said in a statement that her school’s officials are coordinating “counseling, mental health and other support to Kayla’s friends and fellow students at the U … during this very difficult time.”
Staff writer Pam Louwagie contributed to this report.