Murder-suicide rocks quiet, upscale lakefront community outside Minneapolis

By Diane Herbst
Updated September 11, 2015 05:00 PM

Sitting side by side at their youngest daughter Brooklyn’s many travel soccer games over the years, Karen and Brian Short seemed like “a happy couple, always together,” says Allen Plante, the father of one of Brooklyn’s good friends.

The couple hosted soccer parties at their $2 million home on a Minnesota’s Lake Minnetonka, with waterskiing and tubing provided with their motor boat. Yet Toni Plante, Allen’s wife, never felt that the Shorts flashed their wealth. “So unpretentious and such nice people,” Toni tells PEOPLE. “They had a gorgeous home but I felt they didn’t care about the status.”

It was in their Greenwood home yesterday that each member of this family of five died tragically, with sources telling the Star-Tribune that Brian, 45, fatally shot his wife Karen, 48, and their three teenage children before turning the gun on himself.

The bodies of Brian, Karen, Cole, 17, Madison, 15, and Brooklyn, 14, were scattered throughout the house, all bearing traumatic injuries. After entering the home, officers found a small dog, then began a search and discovered the bodies, one by one, in different areas, according to the Star-Tribune.

The horror of finding the bodies unfolded over several minutes as officers went room to room making one gruesome discovery after another: one in a bedroom, another in the basement garage, two more in the basement, the last in a lower-level bedroom, reports the Star-Tribune.

Scanner conversations between police and dispatchers indicate that all the victims appeared to have died of severe injuries, according to the newspaper.

“I feel like I am going to throw up,” says Toni of the findings. “My head is pounding and my daughter is mortified of course. It’s tough.”

Brian and Karen Short moved to the neighborhood about four years ago. Karen was a “devoted mom” who stayed at home and carpooled with Toni to soccer practices and meetings, Toni recalls.

Brian, a nurse who founded an online nursing service, was “such a nice guy. Would talk about anything and did talk about anything,” Toni says. “Very happy, smiling all the time, very smart but humble.”

Brian regaled Toni with stories of his newest car, a Tesla, and the ins and outs of owning an electric car. He also spent a week last summer taking Brooklyn on a climbing trip out West.

Brooklyn, a standout soccer player, made the freshman team at Minnetonka High School. She spent last Sunday biking and eating dinner with Toni and her daughter.

“She was so inquisitive and so happy,” says Toni. “She would say things like, ‘You should always smile because you never know whose day you are going to make.'”

It was at soccer practice yesterday at Minnetonka High School – which all three of the children attended – that Toni’s daughter heard the heartbreaking news about her best friend. “They all started crying,” says Toni. “My daughter was screaming, ‘No, no, no!'”

Says Allen of the horror in this community of low crime and good schools: “It’s gut wrenching. It’s a shock for this to happen right down the street.”

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