Mankato, MN — A community is mourning the loss of a 33-year-old biology teacher this week after he was killed by a Mankato police officer responding to a disturbance at a hotel on New Year’s eve.
Chase A. Tuseth, a graduate of Minnesota State University Mankato, and high school biology teacher in Shakopee, was killed in the early morning hours of New Year’s eve in the Country Inn and Suites in Mankato. Officer Gary Schnorenberg was the officer who killed Tuseth — who was unarmed.
According to police, they were responding to calls of a heated encounter between Tuseth and hotel staff. Tuseth allegedly went behind the counter of the hotel and began throwing things. However, up until police arrived, no one was injured.
After only 5 minutes of the hotel clerk’s 911 call, according to the dispatch audio cited by the Mankato Free Press, Tuseth would be killed.
This short period of time between the 911 call and Tuseth’s death suggests that Schnorenberg, a 30-year veteran of the Mankato Department of Public Safety, must have quickly escalated the situation.
Schnorenberg encountered Tuseth in a hallway near the hotel’s pool and Schnorenberg used his Taser against the man after he ignored “several verbal commands,” the police news release said.
After tasering Tuseth, Schnorenberg tried to place him in handcuffs. However, Tuseth “broke free and began hitting and kicking” the officer, according to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which is investigating the shooting, as reported by the Star Tribune.
Only seconds later, he was dead.
Mankato officers do not wear body cameras and it is unclear what, if anything, the hotel’s surveillance cameras captured.
A South Dakota man staying at the hotel for a wedding weekend told KEYC-TV that he awoke around 4 a.m. and heard four shots.
According to the dispatch audio, emergency medical personnel said Tuleth had been shot in the left side of his body with the exit wound in his back.
EMTs attempted to revive him, however, they were unsuccessful and Tuleth died on scene.
Up until this point in his life, Tuleth’s only run-in with police was a ticket for drinking and driving in 2008. However, that charge was later dismissed.
Tuleth was not a criminal. He was an upstanding member of society who was killed by police who appear to have quickly escalated the situation to violence.
“He was an innovative teacher,” said Tokata Principal Eric Serbus. “He was always looking for the next and best way to connect with students. He brought his experience of project-based learning from the Integrated Arts Academy to Shakopee public schools. He was on the cutting edge of learning.”
“I never saw this coming,” Tuseth’s roommate, Luke Mikkola said. “He’s a super nice guy. He works with kids and is very accommodating to people of other backgrounds. He’s lived all over the world.”
“This is just too weird, you know,” he said. “It doesn’t have to escalate to this.”
According to the Star Tribune, Tuseth was a 2008 graduate of Minnesota State Mankato and a high-jumper on the track team, said his uncle, Mark Liptrap. He attended high school in Stewartville, Minn., and competed at the state meet in 2001. His mother, Mickie Tuseth, teaches and coaches track and cross-country in the Stewartville School District.
Nekima Levy-Pounds, a mayoral candidate in Minneapolis, who is not afraid to speak out against police violence, addressed the killing in a passionate Facebook post on Monday.
“I hope that folks begin to understand that these types of incidents can happen to anyone in a system that lacks proper checks and balances and accountability,” said Levy Pounds before also drawing attention to the lack of public outcry. “It is equally disturbing to see that there is hardly a public outcry unless groups like the Minneapolis NAACP, Black Lives Matter, or other advocacy groups rise up and bring attention to these issues.
“The public in general, and especially the white majority, should be rising up, asking questions, and demanding accountability. De-escalation tactics and techniques should be the first approach of law enforcement in the overwhelming majority of circumstances instead of a shoot first, ask questions later mentality. We cannot afford to have more unnecessary deaths of any of our residents, irrespective of race, ethnicity, or class at the hands of those who are supposed to protect and serve. The time for change is now.”