Man suspected of buying guns for New Hope shooter is arrested, released

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A man suspected of buying the shotgun used in this week's New Hope City Hall shooting was released from jail Friday, after prosecutors determined there was not enough evidence to press charges.

Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek confirmed Friday afternoon that a man arrested by deputies is suspected of buying guns for 68-year-old Raymond Kmetz, who then opened fire on police after a swearing-in ceremony Monday evening. Kmetz was killed when officers returned fire.

Kmetz, who had been hospitalized for treatment of mental illness, was prohibited from owning a firearm.

The sheriff's office called a Friday afternoon news conference at which Stanek described what investigators had learned about the purchase of Kmetz's gun. But, as KSTP reports, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman determined there was not sufficient evidence to charge the man.

FOX 9 cites unidentified sources in reporting that Stanek knew the suspect would not be charged when he went public with details about the investigation.

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 The sheriff's investigation

Stanek said investigators found Kmetz, of Belle Plaine, Minnesota, had arrived at New Hope City Hall with three long guns and left two in his car while he carried out his attack.

The Star Tribune reports Stanek outlined the following path for the guns:

  • The Duluth Police Department sold them to an online auction house.
  • After Kmetz submitted the winning bid they were sent to a clearinghouse in Princeton.
  • The suspected straw buyer went there to pick them up and was the subject of the background check.

KSTP says the 42-year-old suspect reportedly admitted to investigators that he purchased the guns.

In a statement, the County Attorney's office said: "The evidence provided by law enforcement was insufficient to bring felony charges under state law so justice required that he be released."

The New Hope police officers injured in Monday's shooting were Joshua Eernisse and Beau Shoenhard. Both have been released from the hospital.

Meanwhile, New Hope is cleaning up the damage to its city hall, 12 News reports.

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