A man who was fatally shot earlier this week and crashed the car he was driving onto a highway in north Minneapolis was an "influential and beloved" teacher at a nearby charter school, former colleagues confirmed.

School officials in a statement identified the victim as Harvey Williams, who police say was fatally shot Tuesday evening by a suspect or suspects.

The charter school where he worked is part of KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program) schools, a nationwide network founded nearly three decades ago and has grown to 66 schools in 19 states.

"We are absolutely heartbroken. Harvey was an influential and beloved member of our school and community, and many of you have interacted with Harvey or know him," the statement read. "One thing is for sure — Harvey had a personal mission to deeply and positively impact the lives of our students and many young men in North Minneapolis."

Just before 8 p.m. Tuesday, police received several 911 calls that a vehicle had crashed onto the eastbound Interstate 94 on-ramp under the N. 49th Avenue bridge, around the same time as officers were responding to a ShotSpotter activation nearby, in the area of N. 49th and Lyndale avenues. Hennepin County sheriff's deputies found a man, now identified as Williams, dead at the scene.

The circumstances of the shooting are still unclear, and no arrests have been announced.

But police believe that Williams was targeted and that the gunman or gunmen used an assault rifle or a weapon that was modified for automatic fire.

In a statement, KIPP officials said that all schools would be closed on Friday to honor Williams and to accommodate staff and students' "need for healing and mental health."

"We are deeply saddened by yet another act of violence, taking the life of another Black man who was loved so deeply by all," the statement read. "This day will serve as a necessary opportunity for staff, students, and families to reflect, mourn, and take care of themselves."

Williams was at least the second educator from the area to have been gunned down in 2021, which is on pace to eclipse the city's 84 homicides last year.

Libor Jany • 612-673-4064 Twitter: @StribJany