Duluth Man Charged with Second-Degree Murder of St. Cloud State Professor

Investigators say 45-year-old Jason Beckman might have had issues with substance abuse and mental health.

DULUTH, Minn.- A 45-year-old Duluth man is behind bars in St. Cloud for randomly shooting and killing a longtime St. Cloud State Professor with ties to Duluth. Now more is coming out on Jason Beckman’s criminal past, why he was in St. Cloud, and what brought him to pull the trigger.

A Stearns County judge is examining the mental competency of Beckman, now formally charged with second degree murder of 68-year-old Ed Ward, a management professor at St. Cloud State University, Sunday evening in the doorway of his own home.

According to the criminal complaint, Beckman made his way from Duluth to St. Cloud with a truck loaned to him by a man from the Twin Ports.

That man, an acquaintance, told police he didn’t know why Beckman would need to be in the St. Cloud area, while Beckman told him he needed to go to his grandmother’s funeral.

Beckman told investigators he got lost and the truck broke down. Then in a grocery store parking lot, he claimed he saw a man parked, pointing a rifle at him.

But the complaint says Beckman was not sure if it was a delusion or not.

He admitted to using controlled substances in recent days and said he’s diagnosed with PTSD, Schizophrenia, Bipolar and Manic Depressive Disorders.

Beckman then went on to tell investigators he found an unoccupied vehicle with keys in the ignition, which he stole and drove away.

Beckman claimed he then got lost again and crashed his car in the neighborhood where ward lived.

He admitted to knocking on the door of of Ward’s home to get help, and when he answered, Beckman thought he was the guy who he believed pointed a rifle at him earlier in the day.

That’s when, according to the complaint, Beckman pulled out a handgun, began firing at Ward before taking off, and being arrested a short time later less two miles away.

According to investigators, Ward screamed for his wife, Denese, who was sleeping at the time.

She tried calling 9-1-1 but the phone didn’t work, so she ran to the neighbors to call.

All this, while she heard Ed screaming “get an ambulance, I’m dying.”

Denese told police there was no reason anyone would want to kill her husband.

As the criminal complaint says, it was through random circumstances that Beckman ended up taking the life of Ward, a father of two adopted kids from South Korea.

His daughter, Amy, from Duluth telling us he was a gentle, quiet, and intelligent man.

Investigators say Beckman stole the murder weapon Red Wing, Minnesota He’s being held at $2 million bail.

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