The parents of Tekle Sundberg have issued their first statement since his fatal shooting by police Thursday morning, saying they've received few details from authorities regarding his death.
Mark and Cindy Sundberg and the family's new legal team – comprising civil rights lawyers Ben Crump and Jeff Storms – issued a press statement Friday evening stating that they have received "very little information" as to why two Minneapolis police snipers opened fire on the 20-year-old during an overnight standoff.
His parents did say that Sundberg struggled with his mental health, echoing comments from those who knew him who say he was experiencing a crisis when he fired shots at his apartment in the Seward neighborhood of Minneapolis Wednesday evening.
"Like millions in America and worldwide, Tekle struggled with his mental health. While we have received very little information thus far, by all accounts, it sounds like our Tekle was suffering from a mental health crisis," the Sundbergs said. "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."
The shots fired led to a 911 call after some bullets went into a neighboring apartment inhabited by a mother and her two children live. It sparked a six-hour standoff that ended when two MPD officers – Aaron Pearson and Zachary Seraphine – opened fire.
Despite several information releases by authorities since the shooting, there has been no explanation at this time as to why the officers opened fire. There has also been no release of any bodycam footage.
In their comment, Crump and Storms said the family took issue with statements issued by Minneapolis Police Department that suggested the Sundberg family was heavily involved in attempting to talk Tekle down.
"The family has been given very little information about why Tekle’s mental health crisis became a death sentence. His family rejects the public narrative that the Minneapolis Police Department’s efforts were done in close collaboration with his family.
"His parents 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."
They added: “The narrative released by the City of Minneapolis is unclear as to what specifically precipitated the shooting, stating, 'After approximately 6 hours of attempted negotiations, an officer-involved shooting occurred...'
"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."
A march and rally will be held in Minneapolis Saturday starting at 3 p.m., with the Sundberg family and Jeff Storms expected to speak outside 904 South 21st Ave., the apartment complex with he died.
A Go Fund Me fundraiser has also been launched to help cover the family's funeral expenses.
Here's the full statement from his parents:
“First and foremost, we want the world to know that Tekle was deeply loved and that his family and friends are beyond shocked and grieving from these horrific events. Tekle was a son, brother, grandson, uncle, nephew, and friend. He was smart, loving, funny, and kind. He had many artistic talents, including photography and painting. Tekle was a deep, soulful, critical thinker who drew strength and energy from being outside and gazing across the river. He never missed a good sunset. From the time he fixed a stapler for his preschool teacher, we knew Tekle to be capable of fixing anything – furniture, snowblowers, and his grandfather’s riding lawn mower. 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.
“Like millions in America and worldwide, Tekle struggled with his mental health. While we have received very little information thus far, by all accounts, it sounds like our Tekle was suffering from a mental health crisis. 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.”