APPLE VALLEY, Minn. (AP) – In her Apple Valley condominium, Faye Brown kept a folder with the words “Harassment Documentation” written on the cover. Inside the folder, which had grown to be 2 inches thick, Brown chronicled more than a year’s worth of incidents she had with neighbor Raymond Ronald Rosenbaum.
Brown had gathered copies of the police reports and calls for service and notes on Rosenbaum’s behavior toward her, which she described as confrontational and aggressive. One of her last additions to the folder was a copy of a harassment restraining order she had filed against Rosenbaum on Sept. 8.
Brown and Rosenbaum lived directly across the hallway from each other on the second floor at Morningview Condominiums, which is a block west of Cedar Avenue off West 157th Street.
“I am completely terrified,” Brown wrote in her petition for the restraining order, which was granted by a Dakota County district judge the same day she filed it. “I cannot leave my apartment without first looking around, and then trying to quietly sneak out so as to avoid (Rosenbaum).”
Brown’s worst fears played out less than two months later. On Nov. 4, police say the 51-year-old Rosenbaum – armed with a .40-caliber handgun – shot and killed Brown in her condo and critically injured another neighbor before taking his own life in his condo.
Brown, 52, died of a gunshot wound to the torso. The surviving neighbor, who has not been identified by authorities, has been released from the hospital and is expected to make a full recovery.
Brown’s father said she called him a month before the killing and gave a chilling foreshadow of her fate, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported.
“She said, ‘Dad, he’s going to kill me.’ I gave her all the daddy things to do, you know,” said Mike Bruzenak of Bloomington. “She had pepper spray. And I got after her about a year ago to keep notes on everything – and she certainly listened to me.”
For Bruzenak, the folder represents his daughter’s cries for help.
“She did so much work to save her life,” Bruzenak said. He adds that more should have been done by police.
Apple Valley police say they were limited in what they could do with Rosenbaum, and that his volatile behavior and refusal to accept the help they offered highlights the struggle law enforcement face when interacting with people with a history of mental health issues.
“There was nothing on this night specifically that would have led us to predict what would have happened,” police Capt. Nick Francis said. “And I think it just goes to show the true challenge of the mental health crisis in our community and our ability to interact with these folks. Mental health can change day by day and minute by minute.”
Apple Valley police have yet to publicly release a motive for the killing, other than to say that they had responded to the condominium building a number of times over incidents relating to Rosenbaum’s mental health. None of them were deemed to be criminal, Francis said.
In her court petition, Brown wrote that she believed Rosenbaum targeted her because of her position as a board member of the condominium association.
Brown wrote that Rosenbaum banged on her door on multiple occasions at odd hours, including at 4:30 a.m. on June 7, until she responded and how he would tell her about an “alleged repair” or a concern he had over something in the building.
Other times, Rosenbaum stood in the hallway “for no other reason than to stare at me coming or going from my unit,” Brown wrote.
“Several other board members have witnessed (Rosenbaum’s) behavior toward me in the common areas of the condominium as well,” she wrote. “They have asked (Rosenbaum) to leave me alone and not interact with me, but the behavior has only increased and escalated over the last year. It feels like any attempt to calm (Rosenbaum) down only ignites him and causes him to attack me even more.”
Brown wrote that Rosenbaum’s harassing and “episodic” behavior began in April 2019 with him defacing a posting by management in a common area of the building by writing that she was a liar and “unfit for the board.” She claimed it intensified with Rosenbaum accusing her several times of spying on him; staring, yelling and screaming at her; installing a loud motion sensor with an alarm in his front entry doorway in the hallway; and hanging black tarps to cover all his windows.
One day, she wrote, Rosenbaum opened his door and accused Brown of “making the floors bob up and down” and since she was on the board, “I better make it stop.”
A judge granted Brown’s request for a restraining order after concluding there were reasonable grounds to believe that Rosenbaum had “engaged in harassment” by following, monitoring or pursuing Brown, and that he made “uninvited visits” to her and “frightened” her with threatening behavior.
The two-year court order prohibited Rosenbaum from being within 2 feet of Brown, except when passing in the hallway to access his home or common areas of the building.
Rosenbaum also called police several times. This past October, he reported that utility workers who were burying lines in the ground could be “conducting surveillance,” according to the incident report.
“Ray sounded paranoid,” an officer wrote in her report. “I spoke to Leanne from Crisis. Ray was not showing any signs that he can’t care for himself, nor was he a threat to himself or others.”
Rosenbaum’s unpredictable behavior turned from harassing to dangerous the night before the shooting, according to Jeff Dally, Brown’s boyfriend who lives in the condo building.
The couple had gone for a walk and upon returning home, Dally escorted Brown to her apartment.
“With all these Ray incidents, I would routinely walk her up to her place,” said Dally, who is also a board member of the condominium association.
Once at his first-floor condo, he stepped outside onto his patio and “that’s when a couple rocks zinged right past my head,” Dally said.
He said he looked around to see where they came from and walked to the parking lot, where he saw Rosenbaum.
“I asked Ray if he knew anything about these rocks,” Dally said, “and he admitted to throwing them. He admitted to doing it and he said the reason why he was doing it was because I was up on his balcony making his lights stay on. He’s on the second floor and had put up motion-sensor lights.”
Dally said he called the police around 6:30 p.m. and that an officer spoke with Rosenbaum, who admitted there was a confrontation but denied throwing rocks. Dally told the officer that he wanted to press charges.
“At that point, that was the first time that any altercation had become any sort of violence or physical in nature,” Dally said.
According to Dally, the officer said there was no justification to arrest Rosenbaum because Dally was not hit by the rocks and there was no property damage.
“And because he denied throwing them, it was basically my word against his,” Dally said.
The following night, Dally and Brown again went on a walk at a nearby park and once home, he escorted her to her condo. He wouldn’t see her again.
“That was it. We said goodnight at the door and that was it,” Dally said. “What happened after that, I only can get bits and pieces of information about.”
According to police, around 8:30 p.m. Rosenbaum reported that Brown was going in and out of her apartment too much.
“An officer called and spoke with him and he kind of gave limited information about what his chief complaint was,” Capt. Francis said. “But when it came down to it, it wasn’t anything that was illegal behavior and was something that typically would be referred to apartment management.”
Soon, a verbal altercation broke out in the hallway between Rosenbaum and Brown. Door slamming caught the attention of other residents, who stepped in to try to defuse the situation. But Rosenbaum grabbed his gun from his condo and began firing, according to police.
Francis said it’s not clear what set off Rosenbaum.
“It’s hard to say whether or not the door opening and closing prompted him to act in that way,” he said. “Just based on the information that was provided by him, it didn’t lead us to believe it was anything to really put him in crisis.”
For Dally, parts of his girlfriend’s last moments are best not known.
“I’ll be honest, there’s some things maybe I don’t want to know,” he said. “It’s a nightmare beyond words, it really is.”
As the incidents continued, Brown and Dally wanted to know more about Rosenbaum, who they said didn’t seem to have a job or a vehicle.
“More than anything, we were just always very, very worried about what the man was capable of,” Dally said. “We wanted to know if he had a violent past.”
Three months ago, Brown hired a private investigator to look into Rosenbaum’s background. The investigator learned that he was from South Dakota and was divorced and had three children, who are now adults.
“That’s about it, all we know,” Dally said.
Besides a couple of seat-belt violations, Rosenbaum did not have any criminal convictions in Minnesota. Apple Valley investigators did not find any criminal history in other states, Francis said.
Contacted last week, Rosenbaum’s sister, Paula Twiss, said that she was not ready to talk about him or what happened.
“It’s a shock for all of us to even know what occurred, even happened, because that isn’t our brother, my brother,” she said. “It’s not who he is. So we’re still trying to understand what happened.”
As far as his past, he was from Rapid City, South Dakota, and then moved to the Twin Cities, she said.
Dakota County property records show that Rosenbaum bought his condo in August 2017.
“At this point, I’m not going to elaborate on anything because we are still trying to put pieces together,” Twiss said. “There are things we don’t understand and may never understand. There are a lot of unanswered questions and a lot of things that we’re still trying to process because … it’s an unfortunate situation for everybody, and I feel bad for the other family and the other person that was injured. I just don’t know.”
Rosenbaum was on the radar of both the police department and the company that manages the homeowners association, Eagan-based Community Association Group LLC.
In August, Brown spoke with Apple Valley crime prevention specialist Pam Walter about Rosenbaum. Walter followed up with an email in which she explained that “this type of situation is difficult for officers to respond to as they need to see clear violation/behavior in order to act on it (citation or arrest).”
She advised Brown to look into obtaining a harassment restraining order, and to continue to contact police when any repeated actions of harassment by Rosenbaum were witnessed. She told her to continue to inform the association of negative contact with Rosenbaum so they would be able to take action through warning letters or fines after repeated violations of association rules and regulations.
The association’s management company did just that in October 2019, notifying Rosenbaum that the motion sensor and noise emitter that he installed outside his hallway door was an association violation. According to Brown’s order-of-protection petition, they gave him five days to remove them, which he agreed to do, but not before telling the vice president of the association to “tell people to quit spying on me.”
This past June, the association’s counsel served Rosenbaum a letter relating to the incidents, warning him to stop harassing board members and that any further behavior “will not be tolerated and will be met with serious consequences.”
Francis said last week that a police officer and a mental health professional from Dakota County Social Services did reach out to Rosenbaum through their joint coordinated response program, which began in the city in March and is aimed at bringing a more proactive response to mental health calls. Rosenbaum declined their help and offer of connecting him with services, Francis said.
“We cannot predict these and I don’t know whether or not we can prevent them,” he said. “But I know if we have this program up and running, we have a better chance at connecting people with the right resources to avoid these in the future.”
Brown loved life and took care of others, her father said.
After her mother died in 2017, she took on the responsibility of caring for her brother, Jeffery Hein, who is disabled and is deaf and cannot speak, he said.
“Faye took Jeffrey every weekend at first and took him everywhere to spark his wonderful imagination,” Bruzenak said. “She had to slow down to every other weekend because it was taking all of her. She continued fighting for his care.”
No one will feel more pain over her death than her 43-year-old brother, Bruzenak said.
“She was his life. Seeing how he lit up around her is the most powerful memory I have of her effect on the world,” he said.
She recently started to talk to her father about what she wanted for the rest of her life.
“It was travel and a relationship,” he said. “If there is anything here that is not tragedy, it is that she didn’t know how little time she had, and she was just running full ahead into her future.”