Neighbors are remembering a beloved member of the Loring Park community who was brutally killed in an attack early Friday afternoon while working at a grocery store.
A memorial for Robert Skafte, 66, continues to grow outside of Oak Grove Grocery. Mourners are gathering there to share memories of Skafte and paying tribute to him on social media.
Here’s a snippet from a neighbor’s Facebook post: “Throughout the darkest moments of police and community violence, the civil uprising and the pandemic, Robert remained a beacon of glowing community and stability at Oak Grove Grocery. He was there when I needed a soda, a social interaction, and someone to remind me of the power of goodness in the world. Though times were dark, the world was still good and Robert was living proof of that goodness with the most subtle yet powerful gestures.”
Skafte was widely known as the friendly Oak Grove Grocery clerk who wrote messages on a chalkboard at the store’s entrance. He worked there for at least 18 years, according to the research of residents, who found a first-hire mention from 2005.
Ward 7 Councilmember-elect Katie Cashman shared neighbors' photos of Skafte's chalk art in this thread on X.
Skafte was a longtime Loring Park resident who was heavily involved in local farmers markets, including the Stevens Square Farmers Market, which he started 16 years ago. He was also the Steven Square’s local gardening coordinator and worked with another resident on maintaining Overlook Gardens for many years.
Skafte, a professional dancer, could often be found on stage, too. He performed with eclectic Minneapolis-based troupe Ballet of the Dolls, as well as other dance companies over several decades, MPR News reported.
Police arrived at Oak Grove Grocery around 1 p.m. Friday and found Skafte behind the counter “with a golf club impaled through his torso,” according to a Minneapolis Police Department news release.
First responders performed immediate live-saving efforts on Skafte at the scene, and then transported him to Hennepin County Medical Center, where he ultimately died.
After a nearly six-hour standoff at a nearby apartment, police arrested a 44-year-old suspect on suspicion of murder. Charges have since been filed against Taylor Justin Schulz, according to a criminal complaint filed Monday. The suspect has a history of mental illness but no criminal history other than a drunken-driving arrest, the Star Tribune reported.
Police said they will attempt to identify a motive.
Oak Grove Grocery remains closed until further notice.
Additional reporting by Melody Hoffmann