Attempted murder charges have been filed against a man accused of shooting another man at a Fairfax service station.
Michael John Klatt, 60, of Fairfax was charged Tuesday within Renville County felony counts of 1st-degree premeditated murder, 1st-degree assault, and 2nd-degree assault with a dangerous weapon.
According to the criminal complaint, Klatt’s wife, an employee of Weis Oil Smart Mart, told him on January 7 that she no longer loved him and went to stay with their daughter in Redwood Falls. The following day, Klatt went to the service station for an oil change, which was performed by another employee at the station, 55-year-old Kenneth Eckstein. The criminal complaint does not name Eckstein, but Renville County authorities identified him after the shooting in a press release.
Court documents say that Klatt began questioning Eckstein about why he’d encouraged Klatt’s wife to leave him. Eckstein denied having such a conversation with Klatt’s wife but told her about Klatt’s questioning.
According to the complaint, on Friday, January 11, Klatt concealed a .22 Marlin rifle down his pants leg and walked to the Smart Mart just before 8 a.m. Klatt and Eckstein were discussing changing transmission fluid when Klatt took the rifle from his pants leg and began pointing it alternately between his wife and Eckstein, according to the criminal complaint. Eckstein tried several times to disarm Klatt, court records say, but Klatt eventually fired the weapon, the bullet passing through Eckstein’s finger and entering his face near his nose. According to the complaint, Eckstein was then able to disarm Klatt and struck him in the head until he was unconscious.
Eckstein was airlifted to North Memorial Hospital where he underwent surgery on his finger. Court documents say the bullet remains lodged at the base of his skull and is currently inoperable.