Family waiting for answers after police fatally shoot 20-year-old

Officers from the Minneapolis SWAT team shot and killed Andrew Tekle Sundberg Thursday morning after a six-hour standoff. This is the second Minneapolis police shooting this year.

Minneapolis+Police+drive+downtown+on+Tuesday%2C+June+26%2C+2018.

Tony Saunders

Minneapolis Police drive downtown on Tuesday, June 26, 2018.

by Ellie Roth

The parents of 20-year-old Andrew Tekle Sundberg said they are still waiting for a detailed account from the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) of what transpired Thursday morning leading up to the moment MPD officers shot and killed Sundberg after a six-hour standoff.

Comments left by donors on a GoFundMe page started by Sundberg family friends described him as witty, kind and vivacious.

“[Tekle was] a brother, uncle, son, friend, talented artist, hilarious, energetic human. His life was taken too soon by the Minneapolis Police Department,” family friends wrote in the fundraiser description. “Tekle was killed on the morning of his mother’s birthday. He leaves behind many loving family members and friends.”

Thursday morning marked the second time MPD has shot and killed someone this year. Police officer Mark Hanneman shot and killed Amir Locke in his apartment while entering the apartment on a no-knock warrant on Feb. 2.

The details currently available to the public are from two search warrant affidavits filed Friday by an agent with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA). The City of Minneapolis released on Thursday a heavily redacted incident report, with only three of the 28 pages unredacted.

The BCA is currently leading an investigation into the shooting.

The incident report revealed MPD officers Aaron Pearson and Zachary Seraphine both shot their weapons, but it is not yet known which specific officers, or officer, shot Sundberg. According to KSTP, BCA records revealed both Pearson and Seraphine were at Bolero Flats Apartment on the day Amir Locke was killed as well.

According to reporting by the Sahan Journal, “Minneapolis police officer Garrett Parten, the department’s spokesperson, could not be immediately reached late Friday afternoon to respond to the search warrants. Earlier in the day, he told Sahan Journal that the department would not be commenting beyond its initial public statements because of the ongoing investigation.”

The search warrants reported Sundberg was in an apartment building in the 900 block of 21st Ave. S when two snipers from Minneapolis police’s SWAT team fired at him from a rooftop across the street. Sundberg died at Hennepin Healthcare.

Police originally arrived at the scene at 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday after a woman in a neighboring apartment called and reported that her building was being fired upon. According to the search warrants, police later called in the SWAT team as they were evacuating people from the building. 

According to a police report, authorities at the scene activated their body cameras, but the footage has not been released.

Mark and Cindy Sundberg, who were called to the scene during the standoff in attempts to help de-escalate the situation, said family and friends are “beyond shocked and grieving” by the news of their son’s death.

“Like millions in America and worldwide, Tekle struggled with his mental health,” the Sundbergs said in a statement. “We send our deepest sympathies to anyone in his building impacted by his crisis, and we thank the community members who have come forward in loving memory of Tekle.”

Police spokesperson Howie Padilla said the police “took many steps in order to peacefully resolve the situation” and worked with Sundberg’s parents to send him messages and phone calls during the standoff. According to a statement issued Friday by attorneys Ben Crump and Jeff Storm, who also represented George Floyd’s family and are now representing Sundberg’s family, Sundberg’s parents were “highly restricted” in how they could communicate with their son.

The attorneys also rejected the narrative that the police department’s efforts were done in collaboration with relatives.

“[Mark and Cindy Sundberg were] highly restricted in terms of their ability to interact with Tekle and were not allowed to do everything they could to save their son’s life,” the statement said. “No information has been provided as to why Tekle, who officers had isolated for hours, suddenly needed to be executed. We call on the Minneapolis Police Department to immediately provide the family with the video evidence and other information necessary to answer this question.”

Crump tweeted a video on Saturday of Sundberg’s mother speaking about the murder of her son and the role race played in the shooting.

“The mayor is portraying it and the police are portraying it like we collaborated and police were all kind and loving to our family as they tried to help Tekle. That is a lie.They were not,” Cindy Sundberg said. “Everyone knows if it would have been a white person in that building, they [police] would have talked them out. They would have waited.”

Sundberg’s parents also released a statement describing how he was artistic, courageous and sensitive. His parents wrote they want the world to know that Tekle was “deeply loved.”

“Tekle was a son, brother, grandson, uncle, nephew and friend,” they said. “He had the strength and courage to challenge bullies and stand up for the most vulnerable, but also had the innate sensitivity to be capable of loving everyone and everything from plants to his beloved cat, Cali.”

The GoFundMe campaign for the Sundberg family’s funeral expenses now has more than 300 donors and has already raised more than $16,000 of its $20,000 goal.

“I remember Tekle as a vivacious (and rambunctious) 7th/8th grader who I could always rely on to see history from a different angle. All of my love to the Sundberg family,” a donor wrote.

On Thursday night, family and friends gathered for a vigil outside of the apartment where the police shot Sundberg.