MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Hopkins police say a man is in custody after a 67-year-old man was pulled from his home and hacked to death with an ax early Friday morning.
Officers responded at about 3:40 a.m. to a report of a burglary in progress on the 200 block of 10th Avenue North. When police arrived, they found a nearly-naked man dead in the front yard.
“The neighbor used a tool to forcibly chop through the door, confronted our victim, dragged him out of the house and subsequently our victim died of sharp force injuries in the front yard,” said Hopkins Police Sgt. Mike Glassberg.
Neighbors say the victim was 67-year-old John Gallagher, who spent his time working as a volunteer.
“All over the city, did a lot of work,” said neighbor Dave Benson.
Gallagher and his former neighbor, 24-year-old Mitchell Hoogenakker, reportedly have a documented history.
“The victim in this case had recently filed a harassment restraining order against the suspect,” Glassberg said. “It was subsequently placed into effect on July 27, 2017.”>
Police say Hoogenakker made numerous sexual abuse accusations against the victim in the past — none of which were ever founded or prosecuted.
“There was also some issue with our suspect cooperating,” Glassberg said.
Public records show Hoogenakker was civilly committed for mental illness for October of last year, but that was terminated in April.
Jo Vela had only lived in a home for about a month with Hoogenakker, who was one of his roommates. He says Hoogenakker confessed to doing the unthinkable early Friday morning.
“I was in the garage, you know, chilling, and then he came in like if he had just ran or whatever, like really tired, and as soon as I looked it at him really closely he was holding the ax filled with blood,” Vela said. “[Hoogenakker said] ‘Yeah dude, I killed my pedophile, I killed him, I did it,’ or whatever, holding up the ax.”
Gallagher was said to be a long-time Hopkins resident, and was by all accounts an upstanding citizen. He is said to have cared for a woman in her 100s who lived across the alley from him.
Neighbors say they were startled to see police and the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Crime Lab outside since it is such a quiet neighborhood.
“At a business meeting [Thursday] … the group asked me, ‘What’s the one thing you want in the world?’ And I said, ‘World peace,'” Benson said. “The next day, something like this happens, just north of my house? You got to be kidding me!”
Hopkins police say this is the second homicide in the city in the past 10 years, and there is no threat to public safety.
Watch the full press conference from Hopkins police below: