MINNEAPOLIS (CN) – Two Minnesota police officers claim in court that the owner of a gun shop illegally sold firearms to a straw buyer, who then handed the guns over to a mentally ill man who was killed while trying to shoot at a crowd in city hall.
Police officers Beau Schoenhard and Joshua Eernisse, along with their spouses Brigid Schoenhard and Nicole Eernisse, sued Troy Allen Buchholz and his business Every Day Shipping Solutions Inc. in Hennepin County District Court on Wednesday for negligence.
According to the complaint, Buchholz’s store is located in Princeton, Minn., and operates under the business name Full Metal Gun Shop.
Schoenhard and Eernisse claim Full Metal indirectly sold three firearms to Raymond Kmetz after Kmetz submitted a bid through an online auction.
Once Kmetz’s bid was accepted on Aug. 21, 2014, the firearms were transferred to Full Metal and Buchholz, along with his name and contact information, according to the lawsuit.
Two days later, Buccholz allegedly tried several times to contact Kmetz by telephone about the guns but received no answer.
However, later that day, a man named Michael Ronald Garant showed up at Full Metal to purchase the guns Kmetz won at auction, the complaint states.
Schoenhard and Eernisse say Buchholz sold Garant the firearms despite knowing that a “straw purchase” by someone who is not the actual buyer is illegal. Garant is not a party to the lawsuit.
Five months later, the officers say they were nearly killed by Kmetz.
“On January 26, 2015, Kmetz used one of the firearms negligently and illegally sold by the Defendants – a semi-automatic shotgun – to shoot into a group of police officers and their families who had gathered at the New Hope City Hall to see two officers sworn in,” the complaint states. “Kmetz entered City Hall and raised the shotgun at the crowd. Plaintiff Beau Schoenhard, a police officer whose wife and 15-month-old son were nearby, lunged at Kmetz, knocking the shotgun muzzle upward just as Kmetz fired.”
Fragments of Kmetz’s gunshot reportedly flew into the chambers and ricocheted off walls. Eernisse, whose wife was also nearby, was hit in the shoulder with more than 50 pellets and fragments from Kmetz’s shot, the complaint states.
A bullet also shattered Schoenhard’s forearm and wrist during a struggle with Kmetz to prevent him from continuing to shoot, the complaint states.
The ordeal ended when another officer returned fired at Kmetz and killed him.
Schoenhard and Eernisse say they sustained injuries and required multiple surgeries after the incident.
According to the complaint, Kmetz has a long history of incidents that led up to the shooting at the New Hope City Hall.
Since 1980, New Hope and four other police departments reportedly had about 115 contacts with Kmetz, and he had been charged with dozens of crimes.
Beginning in 2009, Kmetz spent time in the Minnesota Security Hospital in Saint Peter, Minn., and at a mental hospital in Anoka, where he was involuntarily committed, according to the lawsuit.
A judge wrote in 2012 that Kmetz had diagnoses of delusional disorder and psychotic disorder. The court said it had “concerns that [Kmetz] would provoke a violent incident due to his constant references to…’somebody going down.’”
Kmetz was released in 2013, and because of his commitments to mental health facilities, he was prohibited from possessing firearms.
When Kmetz submitted his auction bid to get the three firearms, the complaint states, he used his own name and contact information through the online auction hosted by K-Bid Auction of Maple Plain, Minn., which is not a party to the lawsuit.
Schoenhard and Eernisse say the seller of all three shotguns was the Duluth Police Department.
“On August 21, 2014, Kmetz’s bid was accepted at the winning bid for the three shotguns: (1) a Stoeger Model 2000 12-gauge shotgun; (2) a Yimeng Model YL12-1J2b 12-gauge shotgun; and (3) a Mossberg Model 500CG 20-gauge shotgun,” the lawsuit states.
Full Metal did not immediately respond Thursday to an emailed request for comment.
Eernisse still works for the New Hope Police Department and Schoenhard, who worked for New Hope at the time of the shooting, now serves the city of Edina.
The officers seek at least $50,000 in damages for claims of negligence, negligent entrustment and nuisance. They are represented by Philip Sieff with Robins Kaplan in Minneapolis.