MINNEAPOLIS -- Erik Wiltscheck loved having a family living in the home next door in his south Minneapolis neighborhood.
The two young boys made a game of throwing balls over the 6-foot fence, knowing Wiltscheck would toss them right back over.
Wiltscheck also made a point to check in with their newly single mother, Kjersten Schladetzky, to let her know he'd lend a hand if she needed it.
He even helped shovel her driveway on Sunday morning, only to be horrified hours later when Schladetzky's ex-husband came over and fatally shot her and the boys before turning the gun on himself.
Police were called to Schladetzky's blue and white house about 10 a.m. when the shots were fired, sending the neighborhood near the American Swedish Institute into a virtual lockdown as police and SWAT teams arrived.
Wiltscheck said he was walking home from a store when he heard the two boys screaming and saw them running out the front door of the home, coats on and backpacks in hand.
"I thought it was a game. ... All of a sudden, the gunshots started ringing out," he said.
It appeared Schladetzky was shot in the home, and the boys outside as they fled.
A police officer at the scene was heard telling emergency dispatch minutes after the gunshots rang out: "Dad showed up, shot the kids and went in the house."
As police officers arrived, the boys, ages 8 and 11, were lying in the front yard of the house, in the 2700 block of Oakland Avenue S.