Chaska, Minnesota | 15 September, 2019 | (952) 448-2650
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City reels after fatal stabbing
by Mollee Francisco
Jun 09, 2011 | 25368 views | 26 26 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jason Foster lived by one golden rule: “You’re never promised tomorrow so be happy you have today.” It’s a rule his family and friends are now struggling to remember as they mourn the 34-year-old’s death. Foster, who lived in Chaska and worked at Tommy’s Malt Shop, died last Friday after being stabbed outside of Kelley’s Bar.

“We have to keep smiling,” said Kelly Nyren, a longtime friend of Foster.

“He wouldn’t want us to be sad for him,” she added. “He would want us to celebrate him.”

Foster’s funeral was held yesterday at Westwood Community Church in Chanhassen.

A Minneapolis man remains in jail following the stabbing. Jesse James Rogers, 32, was charged with second-degree murder Monday. Judge Janet Cain set Rogers’ bail at $100,000 cash or $1 million bond.

Rogers, who has previously been convicted of first degree possession of a controlled substance – a felony, will make his first court appearance Friday morning. Carver County Attorney Mark Metz indicated that he would be prosecuting the case himself.


According to the criminal complaint, Chaska Police Officer Jamie Personius was on routine patrol when he encountered a fight in progress near Kelley’s Bar. Personius found the severely injured Foster at the scene. He had sustained multiple stab wounds and was transported to Two Twelve Medical Center where he died from his injuries.

Rogers was taken into police custody along with two others. According to the complaint, when taken into custody, Rogers told police he “did what he had to do.”

Witnesses reported to police that Rogers and his brother McCarthur James McGarry had been in the bar drinking when they got into a fight with “a number of bar patrons.” According to the complaint, Rogers and McGarry were struck in the face during the fight resulting in a lip injury for Rogers and the loss of several teeth for McGarry.

One witness involved in the fight told police that he was met by Rogers in the parking lot and told he was going to “come back and whoop his ass.” According to the complaint, Rogers had a knife and was making threats.

The witness told police that he ran toward the bar and told patrons Rogers had a knife and wanted to fight. According to the complaint, a number of patrons  — including Foster — ran outside the bar and told Rogers and McGarry to leave.

“(Rogers) was wielding the knife, dancing around, and coming real close before he swung the knife at Foster,” the complaint stated. The witness told police that he believed Rogers stabbed Foster three times and then stated, “That’s why you get stabbed bitch. That’s why you’re gettin’ stabbed.”

According to the complaint, an autopsy showed Foster’s death was a result of a knife wound to the heart. Four stab wounds were found on Foster’s body – one to the heart, one to the lung and two above his right hip.

Police found a bloody folding knife, with a seven-centimeter long blade, in the bushes near Kelley’s parking lot, the complaint stated.

‘Always smiling’

Friday night, several people held vigil alongside Chaska Boulevard in memory of Foster. A makeshift memorial with flowers, signs, beer bottles and a smiley face balloon soon popped up near Kelley’s Bar, growing over the weekend, as news of his death spread.

“You were always like family to me and will always be,” wrote Jen Turcotte. “There won’t be a day that goes by when I won’t think about you or your smile.”

Dozens of signatures like Turcotte’s have been collected on the memorial signs. Nyren said Foster’s Facebook page is also overflowing with messages.

“He was the Norm of Chaska,” said Nyren, referring to the well-known character from “Cheers.”

“He embraced everyone he came in contact with and made them feel as though they were part of his family,” she noted in her eulogy.

Nyren grew up with Foster and has remained friends into adulthood. To her, he will always be known as “Bump” – though no one can remember just how he got that nickname.

“Since his childhood, Jason had one thing that always stood out to me – his smile,” she wrote.

“Jason had a charisma to him that just drew you in,” she added. “Everywhere I went with him he knew everyone… It took forever to get from one point to another because he had to stop and say hi and give hugs to all his friends.”

Foster was a regular at Kelley’s Bar and well-known in downtown Chaska where he lived and worked. His family moved to Chaska in the late 80s after his father’s death. He attended both Kennedy High School and Chaska High School.

“Jason had a glow that I have never seen in anyone else I have ever known,” wrote Nyren. “His forever positive attitude could turn the worst day into the brightest of days.”


Chaska Mayor Mark Windschitl called the stabbing a “senseless act of violence” at the outset of Monday night’s City Council meeting.

“It’s so unfortunate to have something like that happen in our community,” he said.

Windschitl lauded Officer Personius for quickly containing the situation without any further injuries.

“I do believe this was an isolated incident,” said Windschitl. “This is still a safe community. I’m confident we have nothing to fear.” He noted that in a recent community survey, 90 percent of respondents indicated that they feel safe in Chaska.

But Ida Schwartz is among the 10 percent that don’t feel safe. Schwartz lives on Pine Street, just a few doors down from the drinking establishment. She told council members that there is always a “lot of commotion” and a “lot of activity” around Kelley’s on Friday and Saturday nights.

According to police, Kelley’s Bar has been a source of concern for the department. Owner Kelley Sharp met with police and city officials on Tuesday to discuss issues of concern and the status of the business’ liquor license renewal.

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