Earlier this week, when three media outlets (WCCO-TV, KSTP-TV and Rick Kupchella’s Bring Me The News) released near-simultaneous hagiographies of Darren Evanovich – the Minneapolis man who was shot by a “good samaritan” with a carry permit after Evanovich allegedly robbed and pistol-whipped a woman in a grocery store parking lot – I said (in the comment section of an MPR piece on the subject), somewhat hyperbolically, that this looked like a concerted campaign by the media to whitewash Evanovich and demonize the shooter. The Twin Cities media, of course, have always hated “shall-issue”, and have spared no perversions to “journalism” to try to kill it.
I thought I’d seen the worst the Twin Cities media had to offer.
I was wrong. So very very wrong.
Mark McKinney at the Strib has delivered what may be the worst piece of journalism I’ve ever seen on a Second Amendment issue in my depressingly-long career of finding awful journalism on the subject:
Nine days before his death, Darren Evanovich stopped by the south Minneapolis office of MAD DADS to say hi to V.J. Smith, who heads the local chapter of the street anti-violence program.
Evanovich made a video aimed at kids contemplating the thug life:
“Jail is not fun,” Evanovich confides at one point, “Not being able to see your brothers and sisters grow up isn’t fun. … You don’t see nobody. You have no friends once you step in there.”
We know how this ends, of course; last Friday, Evanovich (and, allegedly, his sister and one other accomplice) went down to the Cub on 26th and Lake.
McKinney relates the story – sort of:
On the evening of Oct. 20, a little more than a week later, a 53-year-old woman was accosted in a supermarket parking lot off E. Lake Street. The stranger was armed with a handgun, and after taking her money, he struck her in the head with his weapon, police said.
That sounds so cold and matter-of-fact. Let’s put this in some context.
Evanovich – as we related this morning – robbed a woman twice his age, a Hispanic woman who cleans offices for a living. He beat her in the face, with a pistol, giving her two black eyes and a bad cut and, let’s not forget, a very legitimate fear of being shot dead in a parking lot.
McKinney – with emphasis added to loathsome bits of agenda journalism:
A man nearby saw the attack. He had a state permit to carry a pistol, and he had one with him. He chased the robber behind a restaurant and shot him dead.
How does that read to you? Like “the man” stalked, tracked and hunted Evanovich like he was a wild animal, perhaps? Like Evanovich was just a leaf in the autumn wind, blown into the wrong place at the wrong time, the wrong parking lot with the wrong remorseless Dirty Harry wannabee?
No mention of the facts from the police’s statement on the incident: that Evanovich allegedly turned and pointed his own gun at the “good samaritan” (according to some accounts, fired a shot at him); indeed, only the most oblique possible reference to the fact that Evanovich was carrying a gun that could still be considered “honest”.
No mention of the fact that had the shooting been even in the least bit ambiguous, the shooter would have been detained, arrested, booked and charged pretty much immediately.
Apparently nobody involved in the case had any choice!
The investigation ensnared Evanovich’s sister, Octavia Marberry, this week when she was jailed on allegations of fraud and aggravated robbery. She had been with Evanovich the night he died, and according to their mother, held him in her arms as he took his last breath.
Back that up a minute, here; Marberry was allegedly part of the robbery. She allegedly participated with her brother in giving an older woman the choice “give us your grocery money or we will kill you” – the act that directly led to the chase, her brother’s alleged move to end the life of the man chasing him, that would justify the “good samaritan’s” alleged shooting and, finally, the heart-rending scene McKinney favored us with.
Evanovich grew up in Minneapolis and Gary, Ind., one of five children.
“He has a good, loving family, and he has lots of friends. He wasn’t 100 percent bad,” his mother, Mary Evanovich of Minneapolis, said in an interview Thursday.
Two members of that loving family were apparently involved in pistol-whipping a Latina working-stiff-ette, of course.
Look – I’m a parent. I’m not going to do the end-zone happy dance over someone getting killed, even if it’s justifiable homicide. As much “fun” as I had raising my own kids, I can’t imagine what it must be like watching yours go off the rails as badly as Mary Evanovich’s seem to have.
But let’s eschew the bullshit, here. Darren Evanovich’s death is a personal tragedy; the path that led him to that godforsaken parking lot was a social tragedy.
But the shooting? That was (so it seems right now) self-defense; as the late Joel Rosenberg taught us all, the second-worst of all the possible outcomes – if you were the “good samaritan” seeing a gun pointing at you in that wretched alley.
UPDATE: A source – let’s call him “Zack” – with extensive knowledge of the issue and some knowledge of the case – wrote an email to McKinney. He sent me a copy. He reached about the same conclusions, but more economically. I’ll include it below the jump.
I will also add some emphasis:
No, the armed robber knew right path, but CHOSE NOT to follow it.
I was disappointed in the tone and content of this “news” story. You uncritically passed along ridiculous assertions of the family of the dead felon, and you shaded the story toward sympathy for two violent criminals. Words have meanings, and your choices of words, and selective reporting of facts, combine to paint a less-than-complete picture of what actually happened.
“On the evening of Oct. 20, a little more than a week later, a 53-year-old woman was accosted in a supermarket parking lot off E. Lake Street. The stranger was armed with a handgun, and after taking her money, he struck her in the head with his weapon, police said”
No, she wasn’t “accosted.” She was robbed and beaten. She has two black eyes in addition to the cut on her head.
“A man nearby saw the attack. He had a state permit to carry a pistol, and he had one with him. He chased the robber behind a restaurant and shot him dead. Police say the robber was Darren Evanovich. He was 23.”
No, the man with the permit chased Evanovich, and AFTER A CONFRONTATION, shot Evanovich. That was in the police release.
“Authorities have not released the name of the man who killed him. The case remains under review by the Hennepin County attorney to determine whether the homicide was a crime.”
And the police released him with no charges, and called him a “good Samaritan.” That’s a pretty strong official statement.
“The investigation ensnared Evanovich’s sister, Octavia Marberry”
“Ensnared” has a negative connotation, as if she was trapped. No, actually, she was CAUGHT, because she was participating in the crime with her brother. Food for thought, and an avenue for a reporter: one of the charges she is being held on is card fraud. Do you think she may have tried to use the victim’s credit or debit card after her brother expired?
“Evanovich said her family has received threats since the shooting, including some from a Facebook page related to the shooting”
Did you see any threats? I saw the Facebook pages, and there were threats against the shooter and against society in general if there was no “justice for Darren,” but I saw no threats against the family. I saw someone write that none of this would have happened if the victim had just given up her purse like “she was supposed to.”
I graduate from journalism school, and your work is not reflective of what I learned about the nature of reporting.
I look forward to your next piece to bring both balance and critical thought to the story,
Hope springs eternal.