Murdered Birmingham teacher Harry Berkowitz remembered - KMSP-TV

Murdered Birmingham teacher Harry Berkowitz remembered

Posted: Updated:
Harry Berkowitz Harry Berkowitz
BIRMINGHAM, Mich. (WJBK) -

A Birmingham schoolteacher is being remembered one day after he was murdered in his own home.  Police say Harry Berkowitz was shot and killed by a longtime roommate.

Sisters Kate and Rebecca Abramson said Berkowitz was unique, innovative and challenged their young minds.  Rebecca is a producer at Fox 2.

"We didn't sit at traditional desks. We sat at high top desks with black leather swivel seats. He wanted a more interactive environment for us.  We were the only classroom that had computers, and this was like 1989," Rebecca said.

"He had me call my mom in front of the class because I had missed an assignment, and never again did I miss an assignment," Kate said.

"He loved having pets in the classroom, and he would buy us candy if we cleaned the cages," Rebecca said.

Berkowitz's former students are sadden to hear of his tragic death.  He was shot multiple times inside his Franklin home. A contractor discovered him dead around 8:30 a.m. Tuesday morning.

Franklin police quickly focused on his 33-year-old roommate Ian Matthews, who was discovered at his ex-girlfriend's house in Royal Oak.  Police there responded to a barricaded gunman situation that ended in suicide.

"That's one of the things that the investigative staff is going to be looking at over the next few days, talking to friends, family, relatives, anybody that may have known the two of them to find out exactly what the motive was," said Franklin Police Chief Daniel Roberts.

Roberts said police had not been called to their home in the past.  He is not talking about the relationship between the two except to say that 72-year-old Berkowitz had known Matthews many years since he was a student in the Birmingham school district. The two had lived together at Berkowitz's Franklin home for more than five years.

Franklin police told us they are having trouble finding any next of kin for Berkowitz. They are asking anyone with any information about relatives to let them know.

"We're trying to identify any relatives who may be here locally or even out of state that we can talk to about handling funeral arrangements and other things like that," Roberts said.

At West Maple Elementary where Berkowitz taught reading support, grief counselors are on hand for students and staff.  After all, he had been an elementary school teacher in the Birmingham district for over 40 years.

"What's most important to me is whoever needs help, whether it's the children, the staff, any parents that were served well by Mr. Berkowitz over the years, we want to be there to help," said Birmingham Schools Superintendent Daniel Nerad.

  • Amy LangeMore from Amy LangeMore>>

  • Former SMART employee's lawsuit battle drags on after 10 years

    Former SMART employee's lawsuit battle drags on after 10 years

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 11:49 PM EDT2014-08-28 03:49:24 GMT
    The case was originally about workplace discrimination. Now it's dragged on for more than a decade despite the case appearing to be one that the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation can't win.
    The case was originally about workplace discrimination. Now it's dragged on for more than a decade despite the case appearing to be one that the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation can't win.
  • Family's home hit hard by storms for second time

    Family's home hit hard by storms for second time

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 8:51 PM EDT2014-08-28 00:51:07 GMT
    For Ericka Page, first came the flood, then the gas line break and Tuesday, the massive tree limb that broke off with part of it landing on her house.
    For Ericka Page, first came the flood, then the gas line break and Tuesday, the massive tree limb that broke off with part of it landing on her house.
  • Police investigate connection of Southfield suicide and Detroit homicide

    Police investigate connection of Southfield suicide and Detroit homicide

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 6:26 PM EDT2014-08-27 22:26:24 GMT
    Police have identified a man's body with a gunshot wound to the chest found under an overpass at 9 Mile and Southfield Tuesday afternoon.At about the time Michael Young, 56, was found, Detroit Police were called to his home - on Westmoreland for a welfare check."The Woman had not been seen since Saturday," said Detroit Police Officer Adam Madera. "We received a 911 call for the well being check and Southfield Police Department showed up all at the same time."Inside police found the body of 56...
    Police have identified a man's body with a gunshot wound to the chest found under an overpass at 9 Mile and Southfield Tuesday afternoon.At about the time Michael Young, 56, was found, Detroit Police were called to his home - on Westmoreland for a welfare check."The Woman had not been seen since Saturday," said Detroit Police Officer Adam Madera. "We received a 911 call for the well being check and Southfield Police Department showed up all at the same time."Inside police found the body of 56...
  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • Child, 3, hospitalized after falling from second-story window

    Child, 3, hospitalized after falling from second-story window

    Monday, September 1 2014 11:31 PM EDT2014-09-02 03:31:18 GMT
    A 3-year-old child is receiving treatment at St. John hospital after falling from a second-story window in Detroit this weekend.
    A 3-year-old child is receiving treatment at St. John hospital after falling from a second-story window in Detroit this weekend.
  • Boy, 5, thrown from father's dirt bike and run over

    Boy, 5, thrown from father's dirt bike and run over

    Monday, September 1 2014 11:18 PM EDT2014-09-02 03:18:50 GMT
    Residents inside Northport Apartments in Macomb Township say that Sunday afternoon they saw a 27-year-old neighbor riding a dirt bike with his 5-year-old son along busy Garfield Road.Neighbors say they've seen him riding before -- but this time he had his child with him."The first thing that caught my eye was he was riding in his dad's lap," neighbor Tim Hale said. "And they were weaving throughout drainage ditches which are pretty steep." Macomb County sheriffs say the small, orange dirt bik...
    Residents inside Northport Apartments in Macomb Township say that Sunday afternoon they saw a 27-year-old neighbor riding a dirt bike with his 5-year-old son along busy Garfield Road.Neighbors say they've seen him riding before -- but this time he had his child with him."The first thing that caught my eye was he was riding in his dad's lap," neighbor Tim Hale said. "And they were weaving throughout drainage ditches which are pretty steep." Macomb County sheriffs say the small, orange dirt bik...
  • Flooding, power outages from latest round of storms

    Flooding, power outages from latest round of storms

    Monday, September 1 2014 10:14 PM EDT2014-09-02 02:14:26 GMT
    More flooding and power outages are being reported after the latest batch of storms.
    More flooding and power outages are being reported after the latest batch of storms.
Powered by WorldNow

KMSP-TV
11358 Viking Drive
Eden Prairie, MN 55344

Phone: (952) 944-9999
Fax: (952) 942-0455

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices