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Cottage Grove Park High School art teacher David Frigaard mourned at his Mahtomedi Willernie bar

MAHTOMEDI - Messages of love and remembrance filled Frigaard's Bar when it opened Sunday for the first time since owner David Frigaard was shot to death the day before.

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Tierney May, of Mahtomedi, was one of the first patrons at Frigaard’s Bar in Willernie, Minn., when it opened Sunday for the first time since owner David Frigaard was killed early Saturday morning. “It’s crazy how much it’s affecting everybody,” May said, adding that the staff and customers at the bar are “like a little family.” (Pioneer Press: Andy Rathbun)

MAHTOMEDI - Messages of love and remembrance filled Frigaard's Bar when it opened Sunday for the first time since owner David Frigaard was shot to death the day before.

The grief was apparent inside the Willernie bar as patrons walked past flowers, candles and written messages on the bar's front facade, to come inside to have a beer, remember their friend and maybe shed a tear.

"It's crazy how much it's affecting everybody," said Tierney May, of Mahtomedi, who described herself as a regular at the bar where people are "like a little family.""It's so shocking because he was such a genuine guy," she said.

Police have arrested 19-year-old Bailey Jordan Garcia from nearby Pine Springs on suspicion of the killing, but have not released details about a possible motive.

Patrons at Frigaard's Bar were searching for answers, too, as to what would have caused someone to shoot Frigaard, who was also a well-liked art teacher at Park High School in Cottage Grove and a married father of three children.

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"I think Dave always did the right thing," said Chris Johnson who was at the bar Sunday, adding that Frigaard would not serve people who were underage or put up with bad behavior in the bar.

Police have said they wouldn't release more details about the shooting until Monday. Johnson said she and others hope to get more answers then.

"That's what has us really baffled -- what happened?" she said.

The South Washington County school district held a press conference Sunday to talk about Frigaard and posted a message on their website.

Park school officials were busy Sunday planning how they would support grieving students and staff on Monday.

"Dave was a respected and valuable member of our staff," said Principal Kerry Timmerman. "He was a talented teacher who enjoyed providing opportunities for students to display their artwork, both at Park and in the greater community. In addition to being a beloved member of the Park staff, Dave taught and coached at a number of other schools in our district in previous years and will be greatly missed by all. Condolences are extended to his family during this difficult time."
Frigaard began working as an art teacher with the school district in August of 1999.
He worked at Park High for four years.

He also served as an at-risk program teacher and an advisor for the gay-straight alliance. In addition, he worked as a girls track coach, football assistant coach and middle school football and basketball coach during his years with the district.

Mahtomedia Fire Chief Terry Fischer said he knew both Dave Frigaard and Garcia.

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Garcia had begun with the fire department in November, Fischer said. He was a probationary on-call firefighter while he attended school to be a firefighter and EMT. The probation period lasts one year, he said.

"I didn't know him that well, but he seemed very energetic and wanted to learn," Fischer said.

Garcia wrote about being a firefighter on his Facebook page.

"First live burn tonight for fire school -- feeling excited," Garcia wrote last week.

Fischer said the shooting was a tragedy for everyone involved.

"It's just tragic," he said. "... It's just a tragedy and I'm not going to speculate on what happened."

Grief-stricken friends posted messages on social media throughout the day Sunday.

"Dave was a great guy who went above and beyond to help others and he made a lot of strangers friends for life through his establishment," wrote Matt Odell on the Pioneer Press Facebook page.

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Odell said he's from Mahtomedi, frequented Frigaard's and knew Dave "quite well."

He called Frigaard "one of the most unselfish people that I've ever met, shirt-off-his-back type of guy."

Odell shared a story about an extremely drunken young man who shattered a window in the front door of the bar. Frigaard's response was to give the man a ride home to make sure he'd be OK.

"This guy had just punched in his front door and Dave's first thought is to get him home safe. That's why this community is so torn up by this senseless act, because Dave treated everyone with respect and dignity and was quick to lend hand no matter the circumstance. He will be missed by many in the community but won't be forgotten by a soul."

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The Pioneer Press is in a media partnership with Forum News Service.

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Bailey Jordan Garcia (Courtesy of Washington County sheriff)

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