Police Officers Attacked By Gunman After Swearing-In Ceremony In New Hope, Minn.

Jan. 29 Editor’s Note: Updates appear at the bottom of this story . . .

This is the early statement of the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office on a shooting last night that occurred at City Hall in New Hope, Minn. New Hope has a population of about 20,000, according to its Wikipedia entry. It is a Minneapolis suburb.

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January 26, 2015 (New Hope) At approximately 7:00 p.m. tonight, the city of New Hope held a swearing in ceremony for two officers with the New Hope Police Department during the scheduled City Council meeting.

Shortly following the ceremony, at approximately 7:15p.m., an adult male entered City Hall with a gun and began firing at the officers inside the building. During this exchange, two New Hope Police officers were struck by gunfire. Subsequently, additional New Hope Police officers who were on scene returned fire, killing the lone suspect.

Both officers who were shot were transported to a local hospital and are receiving medical attention. They are both expected to survive their injuries.

The identity of the suspect will be released by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office.

No further information will be available at this time.

The incident is under investigation by the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office.

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Police officers Joshua Eernisse and Adam Johnson were sworn in at last night’s meeting. Their New Hope careers appear almost immediately to have begun with gunfire directed at themselves and fellow officers. Precisely who the targets were was not immediately clear.

The Star Tribune has a video of part of the incident, plus print coverage.

Among the New Hope Council members attending the meeting was John Elder. After gunshots rang out near council chambers and a bullet reportedly penetrated the door, he appears to have been pressed into a most unexpected duty. Elder, according to his bio on New Hope’s website, had “worked for 21 years in law enforcement for the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, Lakeville Police Department and New Hope Police Department. He is currently a Public Information Officer (PIO) for the Minneapolis Police Department.”

From the Star Tribune (italics added):

New Hope City Council Member John Elder, a former police officer and currently a public information officer for the Minneapolis Police Department, appears in the video, behind the council desk with his gun drawn and pointed toward the door to the chambers. The audio on the video then goes silent.

Elder and others were eventually escorted to safety nearby.

The motive for the attack is unclear.

Jan. 29 updates: The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office has identified the wounded officers as Joshua Eernisse and Beau Schoenhard, saying they are out of the hospital. Eernisse formerly worked as a police officer in Mason City, Iowa, and is one of the New Hope officers who’d just been sworn in. Schoenhard has been with the New Hope force since 2008.

KARE has identified the deceased shooter as Raymond Kmetz, 68. NBC News, meanwhile, is reporting that Kmetz was armed with a “pistol-grip shotgun” whose serial number had been “scrubbed off.”

From NBC News: “The Minnesota man who opened fire during a police swearing-in ceremony this week, wounding two officers, had a history of mental illness and was on the state’s list of people prohibited from owning a gun, authorities said Wednesday.”

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