UPDATE: Welcome Power Line readers! Feel free to check out the other parts of my coverage of the Evanovich shooting case.
I’ve been a “Gunnie” for close to 30 years. Not a hunter, mind you – just a shooter. Someone who enjoys target shooting, and believes, practically and morally, in self-defense shooting.
In that time, I’ve had it insinuated that the reason for this is that I, like all shooters, am “compensating” for “something”, that I have unresolved anger issues and some kind of incipient blood-lusting psychosis, that I’m motivated primarily by fear of the unknown, and that I, a mild-mannered guy who’s never stolen so much as a candy bar in his life and who has never gotten into a fight that didn’t come to him first, am liable to turning into a “Death Wish”-ing Dirty Harry blasting away at shadows by dint of having a gun in my otherwise law-abiding hand.
Against that, I’ve got a few things; the memory of seeing two burglars running out of the house at the sound of my firearm racking a round; decades of swatting aside anti-Second-Amendment “arguments” with the force of unstoppable fact.
And memories of seeing how very, very much in the bag the local media has been for the gun-control movement, even as that movement’s support in the real world has all but evaporated.
And, to be fair, I encountered a few reporters, eventually – most notably Conrad DeFiebre, formerly at the Star/Tribune and, of all people, Steve Perry at the City Pages back in the nineties – who actually covered firearms issues, and especially the “concealed carry” issue, relatively fairly and dispassionately, including soliciting information from sources other than Sarah Brady, Heather Martens, Wes Skoglund and the various Police Chiefs’ associations.
But it’s been a rare pleasure.
Last week, I wrote – I think it’s fair to say “scathingly” – about an article by Matt McKinney at the Strib. The piece garnered some approval, and quite a bit of traffic, from the conservative and gun blogospheres; Ed Morrissey and Scott Johnson, as well as a fair chunk of the pro-Second-Amendment alt-media, linked to the piece.
Which has garnered one of the few direct reactions I’ve ever gotten from a mainstream media reporter; Matt McKinney sent me (and Scott Johnson) a response via email.
He tees it up with a bit from yours truly:
What the blogger characterizes as “loathsome bits of agenda journalism” was in fact a faithful representation of the best information we had at the time. It is only through gross misrepresentations of my story published online on Oct. 27 and in print on the morning of Oct. 28 that he made it appear as though I was withholding information.
I’ll meet McKinney halfway on this one; I am sure it’s true that the information he related about the shooting itself was the best he currently had from reliable – read “official” – sources. McKinney includes the text of the police report from which he worked; I’ll include it below the jump.
As you will see, nowhere does it say the victim was Hispanic, nowhere does it say she was an office cleaner, nowhere does it say she was beaten in the face, sustained two black eyes and received a bad cut, things that I’m accused of withholding.
And in that, I erred. The information I received was from a source in the Second Amendment community that mixed information from the police statement – which was fairly well-known to everyone with an interest in the case by this point – and other, more current, information from the off-the-books community of gun-rights advocates, one of whom – “Zack” – I quoted in my original piece.
And it’s entirely likely that McKinney didn’t have that information – I’ve never known a Strib reporter to cultivate sources in the Second Amendment community – or, if he did, opted not to run it, since it was unofficial and uncorroborated and the kind of thing an editor would have had his ass on a plate for reporting without corroboration. My bad.
It turned out, of course, to be accurate – which was why the shooter was neither arrested on October 20, nor indicted a week later. My good.
Now, look at the bolded passage in the previous paragraph. There’s a huge question that needs to be put to McKinney in gauging his response, hidden in plain sight in that passage.
We’ll come back to it in a moment. McKinney continued (with emphasis added by yours truly):
The blogger’s larger distortion occurs when he erroneously attributes to the Oct. 21 police statement the following: that Evanovich turned and pointed his gun at the armed witness. That piece of information was not released until the afternoon of Oct. 28, when the Hennepin County Attorney’s office issued an email press release that said they had determined the witness acted in self defense. We immediately put that information on line, and it was printed in the following day’s newspaper on the top of the B section, a place second in prominence only to the front page.
McKinney referred to my statement emphasized above as a “larger distortion”. It wasn’t. It was a mistake. I didn’t distinguish in my own report the difference between the police report and the account I got from my own sources. I regret the error; being a blogger who works a private sector day job on top of trying to report the slivers of knows about which I know anything, it’s pretty much inevitable.
But the fact that I erred in reporting the source of my statement should, I’d think, be counterbalanced by the fact that my sources and account were correct, and were confirmed in every particular in the Hennco DA’s final statement.
So at this point, let me take a moment, on the one hand, to apologize to Matt McKinney for characterizing his account of the confrontation as “loathsome agenda journalism”. Clearly, McKinney was doing the blocking and tackling of the trade.
But I’ll also point out that McKinney’s report was still a blast from the past in terms of structure and tone.
But here’s my question for McKinney – one that really sets off my problem with his response.
Read this excerpt from the police report. I’ll add emphasis:
This “Good Samaritan” stated that he had a valid Minnesota Permit to Carry a Handgun and that he had shot the male armed robbery suspect during a confrontation outside of the Super Grand Buffet. He told officers where to find his handgun and he was detained for questioning.
The “Good Samaritan” was “detained for questioning” – which is normal in any kind of shooting, whether self-defense or not.
But he was not arrested – which is also common enough in self-defense cases. Perhaps not in the few cases we’ve seen in Minnesota – the Treptow case, the Grumpy’s Bouncer case, and now the Evanovich case, which only go to show that Minnesota carry permittees are exceptionally trustworthy – but it’s far from uncommon. In carry permit training, you are instructed if, heaven forfend, you need to shoot in self-defense, to expect to be arrested, and to lawyer up immediately. And yet the “Good Samaritan”, according to the same police report to which McKinney said he limited his reporting, was not.
That was the bit that prompted me to start asking questions; why didn’t the Good Samaritan get arrested? Which led me to the story that Hennco attorney Freeman confirmed last Friday.
Now, I’m just a blogger – a schlump who works a day job and raises kids and writes sizzling polemics and, when time permits (and it rarely does) some reporting. If it occurred to me to ask “why wasn’t the Samaritan arrested?”, why didn’t it occur to anyone in the professional media?
Because it didn’t. The local and regional media…
- …called the shooter a “vigilante”. Not just the Twin Cities’ idiot lefty alt media, but even mainstream media. (To say nothing of the Democrat fever swamp, which called it a “vigilante execution“)
- …openly pondered whether the incident would end up being a black mark on the Minnesota Personal Protection Act, absent any evidence at all, pro or con, notwithstanding than the fact that you are vastly – as in “orders of magnitude” – more likely to be hit by lightning than shot unjustly by a legal carry permit holder)
- …ran to Evanovich’s family for Darren’s backstory and their views of the shooting – which certainly made for a compelling, if dog-bites-man, read.
- And, to be fair – especially since I’ve banged on so much of his writing since he took over being Nick Coleman – John Tevlin wrote a generally good piece on the subject which is only slightly marred by a legal misstep that I’ll leave to the experts to remind him about.
Perhaps – I’d suspect it’s likely, in fact – that McKinney either didn’t have the time to dig for, say, any of the stuff I stumbled into, about the victim or the way the incident happened.
Or maybe he didn’t have the sources to do it.
Or maybe the editorial directive to put any meat on the bones of the sparse, Joe-Friday-“Just-The-Facts”-y police report – or to ask that very simple and, in the end, dispositive question.
The police statement includes the phrase “during a confrontation,” which we would later learn meant that Evanovich pointed a gun at the armed witness and told him to mind his own business. At the time the police issued their statement, we didn’t know what the phrase meant.
Who was confronting who? Was it a verbal confrontation? Physical? Was it merely two people facing off in a hostile situation? It was too nebulous to be of much service in understanding what had happened, so we didn’t include it.
As my carry permit teacher, the late Joel Rosenberg, used to joke, “if only we had a class of people, with printing presses and transmitters, whose job it was to find those details out”.
Of course, reporters aren’t omniscient, and they have rules to follow.
And it seems McKinney did.
It’s my opinion that the story deserved a little more than that.
So let me sum it up:
Was I too critical of McKinney’s story? To the extent that it was based on details of the police report, yes.
In the sense that the main theme of McKinney’s piece was to humanize the “victim” Evanovich, and used language that – to this reader, who admittedly has a hair-trigger when it comes to reacting to bigotry against law-abiding gun owner – seemed to put a gauzy soft-focus on a thug with a record of violent crime while disparaging a law-abiding citizen? Maybe, but if so I’m far from alone in criticizing McKinney’s story on that count. Evanovich’s video, his family’s reactions and so on were certainly part of the story.
But not as important as the question that was, I suggest, the most important part of this story – why was the shooter questioned and released? On that, I’d say I raised a very valid question about McKinney’s coverage – and that of pretty much the entire Twin Cities media.
McKinney included the initial police report:
The Oct. 21 Minneapolis police statement on the shooting of Darren Evanovich:
Tonight just after 9:45 p.m. the Minneapolis Emergency Communications Center received two 911 calls. The first call indicated that an elderly female had just been robbed at gunpoint of her purse and pistol whipped in the head in the parking lot of the Cub Foods in the 2800 block of 26th Avenue South.
The second 911 call indicated that a male had been shot in the rear of the Super Grand Buffet, also in the 2800 block of 26th Avenue South. When officers and EMS arrived they found the body of an adult male in his 20’s who had suffered an apparent gunshot wound.
Officers went to the Cub Foods where they were approached by an adult male who stated that he had witnessed the armed robbery/assault of the elderly female and had chased the armed robbery suspect to an area near the Super Grand Buffet. This “Good Samaritan” stated that he had a valid Minnesota Permit to Carry a Handgun and that he had shot the male armed robbery suspect during a confrontation outside of the Super Grand Buffet. He told officers where to find his handgun and he was detained for questioning.
Officers located another handgun believed to belong to the deceased armed robbery suspect near where the shooting took place.
The original elderly female armed robbery victim sustained a laceration to her head when she was pistol whipped. This injury is not considered to be serious.
An adult female was also detained for questioning in connection with the original armed robbery but was later released.
The Minneapolis Police Department Homicide Unit is investigating this case. Anyone with further information about this incident is asked to contact homicide investigators by calling the TIPS Line at 612-692-TIPS (8477).
Investigators will complete their investigation in the coming days and present their case to the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office to determine what, if any, criminal charges are warranted.
The identity of the deceased and his exact cause of death will be released by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office at the completion of their initial investigation.