DULUTH - The shooter in a double homicide at the Cloquet Super 8 earlier this month seemed to be "actively recording" from inside his Ford F-150, which was parked facing a victim's vehicle in the hotel parking lot.
Nicholas Elliot Lenius, 32, was a first-floor guest at the two-story hotel tucked off Big Lake Road on Jan. 8, the night he fatally shot Shellby Marie Trettel, 22, of Cloquet, and Patrick Jeffrey Roers, 35. In the final minutes before he turned his gun on himself, Lenius sent a Snapchat message to his supervisor that said "WTF is going on," according to spare details revealed in search warrants filed in Carlton County.
The supervisor called Lenius back and the two talked — a conversation seen by officials on the hotel's video footage. There are not further details about what they talked about and the supervisor did not return a phone call for this story.
The Cloquet Police Department still has not publicly offered a motive or disclosed whether Lenius knew either victim. Police Chief Derek Randall has not returned phone messages and Mayor Roger Maki said the investigation is ongoing and includes a lot of evidence.
Lenius did not have an obvious social media presence. He graduated from Anoka High School in 2009 and was a running back for the Tornadoes' varsity football team for at least two years. His former coach Jeff Buerkle described Lenius as nice, quiet and well-liked by his teammates — some who remained friends after graduation.
"Very big surprise that he would be involved in this tragedy," Buerkle wrote in an email. "I hope the best for all the families involved."
Several of his former teammates did not return messages.
An employee at Super 8 found Trettel with a gunshot wound to her head in a surveillance room off the hotel's main lobby and called 911 on the frigid night of the killings. The front desk clerk was taken from the scene by ambulance and pronounced dead at St. Luke's hospital. The Police Department issued an active shooter incident — a rare warning that closed down several local businesses that night.
Roers, who was in town for his new job as a tree excavator, was found in his gold Chevy Avalanche with a gunshot wound to the head. The Deer River man had gone out to the parking lot to listen to music, according to his family.
Lenius was found outside on the east side of the building, dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. A weapon was found close to his body.
Officers used surveillance video that captured much of the scene to determine that Lenius, a guest staying in room 123, was the shooter, according to earlier reports from officials.
Items collected by officers from the scene included a semiautomatic Smith & Wesson M&P Shield, ammunition, a laptop and several tablet devices, according to court documents.