Family members and friends of slain hockey coach Michael Brasel took turns expressing sadness at a candlelight vigil Friday night in St. Paul, trying to help the community process his killing and talking about what he was like.
Mayor Melvin Carter and several hundred people from the close-knit St. Anthony Park neighborhood showed up to the vigil in Langford Park, including a dozen or so children in black jerseys of the hockey association he coached.
Andrew McNattin, 43, said he became friends with Brasel after their kids attended preschool together. He described Brasel as a "kind, patient and soft-spoken person," a skilled coach, and said his death has left the community in shock.
"He didn't deserve this, of course nobody deserves that, but he was a wonderful man, and it makes me and a lot of people really, really sad," McNattin said.
A 44-year-old father of two, Brasel was shot just before 7:30 a.m. Saturday. Family members said that Brasel was trying to prevent his wife's car from being broken into before he was shot.
Ramsey County prosecutors charged Kle Swee, 17, with second-degree murder Friday in connection with the killing. Organizers set up a pathway around Langford Park lined with candles, and visitors took turns writing messages of love in honor of Brasel to attach to tree branches or to go on large posters.
His wife Hilary Brasel joked that Michael would be "pissed he's missing the party." Through tears, she talked about the impact Brasel left on his carpentry customers who gushed about the special details he added to their homes.
"I'm just learning how to prioritize and focus on my boys, and put this together to try and make the three of us have one hell of a ride in his honor," Hilary Brasel said.
Brasel's brother, Christopher, said the family hopes more is done to prevent similar tragedies in the future.
"It is time to be proactive in regards to guns, gun violence and criminals which choose to use them," he said.
The mayor expressed gratitude to the crowd and said he hopes candlelight vigils "never have to happen again."
"You give me hope, to be in a community that doesn't accept something like this, that comes together in a beautiful expression of love after a tragedy like this," Carter said.