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‘He stood up for me’: Youth hockey dad gunned down in front of own home on Saturday morning while trying to stop car break-in

Michael Brasel

A St. Paul police car is pictured outside the crime scene (L) (WCCO screengrab), Michael Brasel (R) (via GoFundMe)

A husband, father of two, youth hockey coach and talented carpenter was shot and killed in his own front yard at the age of 44 while trying to stop someone from breaking into his wife’s car over the weekend.

Authorities said that a neighbor was the one who called 911 early Saturday morning after Michael Brasel was shot multiple times in front of his Chilcombe Avenue home in St. Paul, Minnesota.

“Just before 7:30 a.m., a 911 caller reported that their neighbor had been shot on the 2300 block of Chilcombe Avenue. When officers arrived, they located an adult male suffering from apparent gunshot wounds,” the St. Paul Police Department said in an update Saturday. “Officers secured the scene and called for Saint Paul Fire medics, who transported the victim to Hennepin County Medical Center. The victim was pronounced dead at the hospital.”

Investigators said that they are “currently working to determine what led to the assault and who is responsible for the death.”

“We need people to call us. If anybody knows anything about this crime, we would encourage them to call investigators. Also, if anybody has cameras on the exterior of their home that captured the crime itself or the people responsible, we would encourage them also to contact our investigators,” said St. Paul Police Sgt. Mike Ernster when addressing reporters over the weekend.

Ernster called the shooting “very unusual for the neighborhood.” Cops said, however, that the death of Michael Brasel is the thirteenth homicide of the year in St. Paul.

The victim’s wife posted Sunday that she was “so honored to have shared my life with this amazing man for 23 years,” describing Michael as “one in a million.”

“Michael Scott Brasel was tragically shot in our front yard after confronting someone trying to break into my car. Ever the protector and good man he stood up for me with his last effort and breath,” a heartbroken Hilary Brasel mourned her husband. “Never thought I would wake up to 3 gunshots all of which hit Michael in the chest. Never thought I would have to try to revive my husband with CPR while my boys are calling 911 and watched. Never thought we would have to ride in a squad car to help SPPD investigators find his killers. Never thought my children would need to be DNA swabbed to help eliminate DNA from my car to catch his killer. Never thought I would tell life source that yes Michael would help others with tissue and organs donation. Never thought that today was my last day to have him in my life.”

As of Tuesday morning, a GoFundMe campaign started on Hilary Brasel’s behalf had raised more than $150,000.

“It is with a heavy heart that we share the devastating news of Michael Brasel’s passing. Michael tragically was shot and killed outside of his home. Our thoughts and prayers are with Michael’s family and loved ones during this unimaginably difficult time. Michael and Hillary have two boys, Oliver in Grade 8 and Miles in Grade 5,” the GoFundMe said. “Michael will always be remembered for his unwavering love for his children, his unbreakable bond with his wife Hilary, and his infectious spirit that touched the lives of everyone he met. He was a devoted coach who inspired and encouraged countless young athletes to achieve their full potential.”

In a follow-up post Monday on Facebook, Hilary Brasel thanked everyone for their “enormous generosity, kindness, support, and most of all love.”

“Our family has seen that in the wake of this tragic event there is an ever widening circle of people who are here to support us not just in the next few days and weeks, but for the long haul of building a life again without Michael,” the widow wrote. “We are so grateful for the number of communities who have rallied around us from our beloved hockey and lacrosse families, to our amazing neighbors and friends in St. Anthony Park, to our steadfast immediate family and close friends who are helping hold us together. I am so grateful to individuals who have reached out with offers of help us to navigate new worlds we knew nothing about until this tragedy landed on our door step.”

Michael Brasel worked with Golliker Construction as a “residential carpenter on historic and unique homes in St Paul and Minneapolis,” his wife said. “He loved playing hockey on multiple ‘old man’ hockey teams and coaching hockey for multiple youth hockey teams over the last 7 years.”

“Hockey was his way to connect with his own boys to help grow their skills and confidence, along with an endless list of other young players who loved him as a coach. He also over the last 7 years built a bigger and better back yard rink so his family could play epic 2v2 games and created a way that his boys would always have a way to skate,” the Facebook post said. “Above all of these amazing talents, the greatest thing about Michael was his genuine heart and endless love for those who knew him best.”

Hilary Brasel urged members of the public who may know something about the shooting to help bring the family “closure” and “justice for the life that [Michael] was robbed of.”

Cops have asked anyone with information about the crime, especially video evidence, to call homicide detectives at 651-266-5650.

In an interview with WCCO, Dominick Washington remembered his friend as “one of the most selfless people.”

“We are going to miss the hell out of him,” Washington said.

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Matt Naham is the Senior A.M. Editor of Law&Crime.