Murdered Birmingham teacher Harry Berkowitz remembered - My29 WFTC Minneapolis-St. Paul

Murdered Birmingham teacher Harry Berkowitz remembered

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Harry Berkowitz Harry Berkowitz

A Birmingham schoolteacher is being remembered one day after he was murdered in his own home.  Police say Harry Berkowitz was shot and killed by a longtime roommate.

Sisters Kate and Rebecca Abramson said Berkowitz was unique, innovative and challenged their young minds.  Rebecca is a producer at Fox 2.

"We didn't sit at traditional desks. We sat at high top desks with black leather swivel seats. He wanted a more interactive environment for us.  We were the only classroom that had computers, and this was like 1989," Rebecca said.

"He had me call my mom in front of the class because I had missed an assignment, and never again did I miss an assignment," Kate said.

"He loved having pets in the classroom, and he would buy us candy if we cleaned the cages," Rebecca said.

Berkowitz's former students are sadden to hear of his tragic death.  He was shot multiple times inside his Franklin home. A contractor discovered him dead around 8:30 a.m. Tuesday morning.

Franklin police quickly focused on his 33-year-old roommate Ian Matthews, who was discovered at his ex-girlfriend's house in Royal Oak.  Police there responded to a barricaded gunman situation that ended in suicide.

"That's one of the things that the investigative staff is going to be looking at over the next few days, talking to friends, family, relatives, anybody that may have known the two of them to find out exactly what the motive was," said Franklin Police Chief Daniel Roberts.

Roberts said police had not been called to their home in the past.  He is not talking about the relationship between the two except to say that 72-year-old Berkowitz had known Matthews many years since he was a student in the Birmingham school district. The two had lived together at Berkowitz's Franklin home for more than five years.

Franklin police told us they are having trouble finding any next of kin for Berkowitz. They are asking anyone with any information about relatives to let them know.

"We're trying to identify any relatives who may be here locally or even out of state that we can talk to about handling funeral arrangements and other things like that," Roberts said.

At West Maple Elementary where Berkowitz taught reading support, grief counselors are on hand for students and staff.  After all, he had been an elementary school teacher in the Birmingham district for over 40 years.

"What's most important to me is whoever needs help, whether it's the children, the staff, any parents that were served well by Mr. Berkowitz over the years, we want to be there to help," said Birmingham Schools Superintendent Daniel Nerad.

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