Victim of 'violent death' in Columbia Heights was a student mentor

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A St. Paul high school is mourning the loss of a staff member, who authorities say was killed in a "violent" homicide in Columbia Heights.

Investigators confirmed 31-year-old Philip Charles Borer Nelson died early Thursday morning at an apartment on the 1000 block of 41st Avenue NE.

Nelson worked at the High School for the Recording Arts in St. Paul as a student adviser. For about two years he helped mentor students and prepare them for graduation. He was also an alumnus from the class of 2005.

Tony Simmons, the school's executive director, released the following statement:

"There are no words that can express our sorrow and pain at the senseless loss of one of our own, Philip Nelson. Philip was not only a colleague and friend to many of us, he was also a loving son and father. I know our students and we will keep trying to find explanation for what isn't explainable. With that, I hope we will find a way at this very difficult time to focus on Philip's kind and beautiful spirit. He was truly a special person. Although gone, he left us a special gift through his life and memory and that is to love our students and each other even more. As we process what has happened, we will focus our attention on our students by providing them with our support, and with access to grief counseling. Our deepest condolences go out to Philip's family and friends."

On Friday, police released a new description of the suspect. He goes by the name "Ox" or "Occ" and is believed to be in his mid-30s with slight facial hair and a “dread” hairstyle. Police also say he may have a tattoo of a flower on his left forearm.

Nelson's friends and students are holding a concert in his honor Friday at 7 p.m. at The Broke Haus in Minneapolis.