Schenectady County

Officials probe Guilderland man’s fatal fall at Minnesota mall

By some accounts, Dakota Rey Kohler was tortured by the tragic deaths of his brothers last summer.

By some accounts, Dakota Rey Kohler was tortured by the tragic deaths of his brothers last summer.

Twins Alexander and Zachary Rohloff were both killed when their ATVs collided on a ridge not far from their Schaghticoke home in June. Friends indicated that the 21-year-old Guilderland man often wrestled with the grief caused by those deaths, and his Facebook profile suggests the same — he listed “self-destruction” as an activity.

Authorities said Kohler briefly conversed with security guards at the Mall of America, vaulted a railing and then plunged four floors to his death early Wednesday evening. Yet investigators are still uncertain whether Kohler intended to leap from the top floor of the sprawling retail complex in Bloomington, Minn., or if his death was the accidental result of his erratic behavior that evening.

“We’re still trying to determine if he fell intentionally or accidentally,” said Commander Mark Stehlik, a spokesman for the Bloomington Police.

Mall security was initially alerted about Kohler when several mall customers spotted him holding a knife with a 15-inch blade in an area of the mall that includes a number of bars and restaurants overlooking a performance area at the mall’s rotunda. Police said he hadn’t threatened anyone when mall security approached him around 6:50 p.m.

“They had a very brief conversation with him, and then he threw the knife down, climbed over the railing and fell,” Stehlik said.

Police believe Kohler was in Minnesota visiting friends before his death. They are still trying to determine if he was intoxicated when he went over the railing.

“There are still a lot of things we need to do,” he said.

A family friend said Kohler’s mother was too distraught to discuss his death, which came less than 10 months after those of her 17-year-old twins.

However, pictures and posts on his Facebook profile depict him as a fun-loving roofer undaunted by heights who enjoyed imbibing with friends. About two months ago, he posted pictures and video on the social networking site of himself skydiving. In the video, the narrator asks if he’s nervous or scared.

“Hell, no,” a smiling Kohler responds in the video.

But other posts suggest a more troubled image of Kohler — one that shows him as someone immensely pained by the deaths of Alexander and Zachary. In one picture posted about six months ago, he holds a beer can and has what appears to be a pistol pointed at his head.

“It was a one-man game of Russian roulette,” the photo caption states.

His last post on Facebook came shortly before 5 p.m. Wednesday, less than two hours before his death. He wrote simply, “calling all captains.”

Kohler’s Facebook friends were quick to post their disbelief about his death. But as the news spread, the tone quickly changed to remorse over a young life cut short.

“I hope you are happy and enjoying being with your brothers,” wrote one of his more than 1,100 friends on the site. “It was too soon for all of you to go, my thoughts and prayers are with your family. May you all rest in peace and you all are missed.”

Kohler was scheduled to face charges in Albany County Court on the day of his death, according to the District Attorney’s Office. Guilderland Police arrested him on charges stemming from allegedly having consensual sex with a 16-year-old girl in October, and an indictment was handed up last week. He had been free on $5,000 bail. However, no warrant had been issued for his arrest, according to Heather Orth, a spokeswoman for the district attorney.

“The details [of his death] came in before the that process started,” she said.

Kohler is the third person to die at the Mall of America in the past month. Stehlik said two other individuals died after jumping from the mall’s parking garage; both were later ruled suicides.

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