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Mendota Heights man shot, killed after breaking into northern Minnesota homes
Family: 'He was not himself when this occurred'
When Benjamin Cornell Beaudoin forced himself into two northern Minnesota homes July 26, he faced two men with guns. The first broke the stock of a shotgun on his head; the second shot the Mendota Heights man who later died at a hospital, police say.
According to a news release from Koochiching County Sheriff Brian Jespersen, Beaudoin, 34, was shot, after reportedly assaulting an elderly woman who offered to let him in her house when she saw he had blood on his face from a beating in a previous home invasion in Ray, Minnesota, an unincorporated community not 20 miles south of the U.S.-Canada border.
It was a "shocking event" for Beaudoin's family. Relatives say they believe Beaudoin was experiencing an episode of extreme paranoia that morning, as he had been experiencing symptoms of an unidentified mental illness.
"The story is still hard to believe and in no way represents Ben's true character," the family said in a statement directed to friends and family on the Facebook profile of Brea Jennings, Beaudoin's sister, and included in this story with permission from the family. "Those of us who know and love Ben know that he was not himself when this occurred."
Two home invasions
According to police reports, officers were summoned to a couple's home at 5:19 a.m. July 26, where Beaudoin broke in through a locked door. When he saw the intruder, Neil Reller grabbed a shotgun and hit Beaudoin over the head several times, police said. The stock broke off the gun during the struggle.
Beaudoin fled, and drove to the home of Ethel Himes. She reportedly let Beaudoin in the house, and he pushed her down in the living room, choked her and beat her head on the floor.
To defend her, her son, Bradley Himes, went to grab a handgun from his bedroom. Beaudoin followed him, lunging at the son, who then shot him.
Died at the hospital
An officer provided first aid to Beaudoin at the Himes home, according to the news release.
An ambulance transported Beaudoin to Rainy Lake Medical Center, where he later died from his injuries, according to police.
According to Koochiching County attorney Jeff Naglosky, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the St. Louis County Medical Examiner have not made available their reports, and have declined to comment further.
According to the Peterson-Johnson Funeral Home obituary, Beaudoin was born April 22, 1980, in St. Paul.
He graduated from Princeton High School, and then earned a bachelor's degree in psychology at Bemidji State University.
The obituary says he was a "proud member" of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.
The family said that most knew him as a man who "fiercely loved" his family; a man who had a passion for hockey, walleye fishing and hunting, and conquered substance abuse, celebrating his 12th year of sobriety in June, according to the obituary and the Facebook statement.
Drug, mental health issues
The family explained Beaudoin struggled "with a type of mental illness that was never positively identified, but that involved severe migraines and their powerful side effects," the Facebook statement said. "He suffered a traumatic brain injury as a teen and chemical and alcohol addiction in subsequent years, and we believe both of these have contributed in some way to his recent struggles.
The family said the morning of July 26 "Ben had an episode that took over his mind and body."
Beaudoin's minimal encounters with law enforcement in Minnesota in the past included traffic violations, court records say.
Kaitlyn Roby can be reached at 651-748-7815 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her at twitter.com/KRobyNews.