Sheriff: Man killed in confrontation with police obtained gun illegally through straw buyer

The shotgun used by a man who was killed in a confrontation with police outside a City Hall meeting in suburban Minneapolis was illegally channeled to him by a straw buyer, a sheriff said Friday night.

But prosecutors said the suspect in the so-called straw purchase had to be released because they didn't have sufficient evidence to hold him.

Raymond Kmetz, 68, had a long record of disputes with New Hope officials. He was killed Monday night after he opened fire on officers outside the New Hope City Council chambers. Kmetz could not legally buy a gun because of his history of mental illness, which included commitments to the Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter.

Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek said told reporters Friday that Kmetz bought three guns via an online auction site and had a 42-year-old Golden Valley man pick them up for him at a licensed dealer. The guns included the shotgun he used Monday night.

The buyer admitted to purchasing the guns for Kmetz and was booked into Hennepin County Jail, the sheriff said.

"The evidence provided by law enforcement was insufficient to bring felony charges under state law so justice required that he be released," according to a statement from the Hennepin County attorney's office.

Kmetz's son, Nathan Kmetz, has said his father blamed authorities for the loss of his home and contracting business.

The two wounded officers left the hospital Tuesday. New Hope officers Beau Schoenhard and Joshua Eernisse were just leaving a swearing-in ceremony for Eernisse and another officer when Kmetz confronted them.