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Prosecutors on Monday filed murder charges against the accused killer who wielded a golf club in the killing of a beloved Loring Park man late last week.

Police found Robert Skafte, 66, behind the counter of the Oak Grove Grocery store just before 1 p.m. Friday with a golf club through his torso. Skafte, an acclaimed ballet dancer, cashiered at the store for decades and was a fixture of the neighborhood now mourning his loss. Police say they arrested Taylor Justin Schulz, 44, after a six-hour standoff. Newly filed charges accuse Schulz of previously assaulting others.

Schulz makes his first court appearance Tuesday and an attorney for him is not yet listed.

The Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office on Monday ruled Skafte's cause of death multiple penetrating and blunt-force injuries. Friends and neighbors have created a memorial to Skafte outside the grocery store.

Skafte trained and danced with Westside School of Ballet in Santa Monica, Calif., in the early 1980s, and Kansas City Ballet from 1984 to 1994. He then made Minneapolis home, dancing with the theater company Ballet of the Dolls, according to Westside's website.

Gladys Torres and Randy Zandt stood outside a memorial for Robert Skafte at Oak Grove Grocery on Friday night.
Gladys Torres and Randy Zandt stood outside a memorial for Robert Skafte at Oak Grove Grocery on Friday night.

Louis Krauss

First responders provided aid until Skafte was taken to HCMC, where he died.

Schulz lived at 215 Oak Grove Street, an apartment across the street from the grocery store, where he barricaded himself after the killing.

Charges of second-degree murder say that Schulz had assaulted other apartment residents on previous occasions.

According to the criminal complaint and video footage of the attack:

A customer entered the store less than two minutes after the attack and called 911.

Skafte was working when Schulz entered. He approached the counter with merchandise and almost immediately walked around the counter and began kneeing and punching Skafte, who attempted to get away.

Schulz dragged him back by his shirt and continued choking, punching and kicking him. He then retrieved a golf club from behind the counter.

He struck Skafte in the head and neck eight times before the head of the club broke off. Schulz then began stabbing him with the broken shaft of the club before impaling him in the torso.

A witness told police they saw a resident run into the apartment with blood on his face and clothing.

Officers knocked on his door on the 16th floor. He yelled at officers to "go away" and refused to leave. He opened his door after six hours and was taken into custody. A search of his apartment turned up clothing that Schulz apparently tried cleaning with a bar of soap.

The charges don't list a motive for the killing.

"We will do our best to try and make sense of this, but this is horrific and absolutely senseless," Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O'Hara said at a Friday news briefing.

Court records detail Schulz' mental illness and run-ins with the law. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia and self-reported PTSD, court records state.

An Anoka County District judge ordered six months of commitment after Mercy Hospital's Unity campus in Fridley filed a petition in January 2021 for Schulz to be civilly committed due to risk of harm.

At the time, Schulz was hospitalized at Mercy after reportedly drinking large amounts of beer on a daily basis at an area hotel. EMS arrived at the hotel and gave him valium. Court records say that Schulz told a hotel employee that he killed Osama bin Laden and was staying at various hotels and hallucinating after driving to Minnesota from Maine.

"He also told hospital staff that he was fearful that auditory hallucinations would tell him to hurt someone and he would follow through with such a command," the commitment order states.

He had received treatment and services through the VA but wasn't at the time of the commitment proceedings.

His civil commitment ended July 2021. That August, he was charged with driving under the influence but the case was dismissed. Court records show that he had a Maine driver's license when police stopped him on Main Street in Anoka.

Schulz was issued an eviction summons in November and he was already the subject of a person-in-crisis welfare check after he called 911 "wanting to speak to the FBI."

Throughout the weekend, Skafte's Loring Park neighbors gathered to remember a man who they say was first to welcome new residents.

Neighbor Tony Gutoski was among the first to render aid to Skafte, whom he found partly on his knees and still conscious after the attack. He told Gutoski that someone who "was in there earlier acting crazy came back and attacked him," and that he kept fighting him but didn't know what happened.

The club was through Skafte's abdomen with the broken-off head lying nearby, Gutoski said. Medics tended to Skafte, who lost consciousness as he was carried outside.

"The only reason I knew what was going on is Robert was still conscious and talking when I found him," he said.

Gutoski, who knew Skafte well from frequent visits to the store, said visiting the market again will be difficult. An owner he spoke to said she was unsure whether it would reopen.

"It just makes me angry," Gutoski said. "He was a great dude."

Star Tribune staff writers Paul Walsh, Abby Simons and Louis Krauss contributed to this report.