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Man recalled as kind but struggling

Incidents leading to knife attack, shooting unclear

AVON -- Friends and family of an Avon man shot and killed by a Framingham police officer Friday night described him yesterday as a peaceful, considerate man who might have been depressed by his failure to find a job and mend a relationship with a former girlfriend.

Karl Thomsen, 42, was threatening Officer Steve Casey with a knife before Casey fired four shots in response on Concord Street in Framingham, according to a statement from the district attorney's office in Middlesex County. The office and Framingham Police Department are investigating the shooting.

"He was always a good kid," said his mother, Nancy Tom, 72, sitting in the blue ranch house where Thomsen grew up and spent the last months of his life. "We never had much trouble with him."

Thomsen and his parents were preparing for a cousin's wedding Friday when he left the house, saying he was going to the library to check his e-mail, his parents said. A licensed installer of heating and air conditioning units, Thomsen had been looking for work since moving to his parents' house from Framingham in April.

"Last time I spoke with him, he was a little down in the dumps," said Victor Martelli, who has lived across the street from the Toms for 15 years and said he occasionally shared a beer with Thomsen. Thomsen also spent time in Framingham with an on-and-off girlfriend, his parents said.

Tom, who is recovering from a six-way coronary bypass and breathed with the help of an oxygen tank, said she hopes Thomsen "didn't hurt anyone else."

When asked whether she was referring to Thomsen's former girlfriend, whom police have not named, she said yes. Investigators spoke with a woman whom they identified a girlfriend of Thomsen's, said Corey Welford, spokesman for the district attorney's office. The woman had not been harmed, he said.

Thomsen had left his clothes for the wedding laid out at home. When he had not returned by 6 p.m., his parents left.

They said they do not know what happened between the time Thomsen left home and about 8:15 Friday night, when police say he flagged down Casey near Framingham's Masonic hall.

Thomsen told the officer he had discovered a body, according to the district attorney's statement. After Casey left his car, Thomsen approached him, wielding a large knife, the statement said. Casey then shot Thomsen, who was pronounced dead at MetroWest Medical Center. Casey was not hurt.

Thomsen's friends said the account of his actions does not match with their memories of him. They recalled Thomsen as a friendly man who, in the weeks before he died, helped jumpstart the car of a neighbor, Sarah West, and installed an air conditioner in her house for free.

"I grew up with him, and he's never been in a fight his whole life," said her husband, Stephen, who recalled fishing and building forts with Thomsen as a child.

"I can't imagine what he could have done," said Martin Tom, his father, shaking his head and standing amid piles of food from friends. "I think and think, but I can't come up with an answer."

Globe correspondent Ryan Haggerty contributed to this report.

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