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Man reportedly shot by brother at New Year’s gathering in White Bear Township

A murder-suicide happened Tuesday, Jan 1, in White Bear Township. Jean Pieri / St. Paul Pioneer Press1 / 2
Larry Klimek, right, who was a Metro Transit bus driver, points out options with his mentee Angel Rodriguez at Heywood Garage in Minneapolis. The mentorship program started in September 2018. Klimek was killed in his mother's White Bear Township home on Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019. Courtesy of Metro Transit2 / 2

MINNEAPOLIS -- A family’s annual potluck gathering on New Year’s Day in White Bear Township ended with a man fatally shooting his brother before taking his own life.

Larry Klimek, 54, who was slain, had his two teenage children with him at his mother’s house. One of the children called police after the shooting, according to their mother.

“They are doing as well as one would expect of kids who just lost their father,” Sonya Zuker, mother of the 14-year-old girl and 16-year-old boy, said Wednesday, Jan. 2.

The suspect was identified as Lee Klimek, 56, according to emergency radio traffic.

The Ramsey County sheriff’s office said two men were found dead in the house after authorities responded to the report of shots fired about 3:45 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 1. Authorities have not confirmed the incident was a murder-suicide. However, they said they are not looking for other suspects and there was no danger to the public.

A large number of people were gathered at the home, said Randy Gustafson, sheriff’s office spokesman. The shooting happened during an annual New Year’s Day party hosted by Jeanette Klimek, the mother of the two brothers.

Larry Klimek’s first priority was his family, said Zuker, his ex-wife. He leaves behind three children and his wife, Heather.

“Larry was a wonderful family man, and he loved his children more than anything in the world,” said Shawn Logan, a former wife and the mother of his 32-year-old daughter. “He loved his family. …He’s always happy, always willing to lend a hand, (a) very kind, giving person.”

Larry Klimek worked for Metro Transit for almost five years — he was a light-rail train operator and a bus driver. In September, when the agency started a mentorship program, Klimek was one of the first to raise his hands to help and he mentored two people, said Howie Padilla, Metro Transit spokesman.

Stephanie Klimek, Larry’s adult daughter, wrote on Facebook that her father “is seriously missed beyond words.” She wrote her uncle, Lee, shot her father before he killed himself.

John Cunningham, a relative, asked people to pray for all of his family.

“This horrifying tragedy happened in front of us this afternoon while we were celebrating New Years,” he wrote on Facebook on Tuesday. “We are still all in shock that this has happened in our family. Please tell the people around you that you love them.”

Initial emergency radio traffic posted on Twitter and Facebook by North East Twin Cities Scanner indicated that one person was in the kitchen and another in the basement and that a possible suicide had occurred.

A SWAT team was called out because there were still people in the home, and the suspect’s location inside was unknown, Gustafson said.

A person who emerged from the home reported the suspect was possibly armed with a shotgun, rifle and handgun. The person heard three gunshots and thought the suspect shot himself and a dog and was in the basement, according to the scanner audio.