The Media And The Evanovich Shooting: Here’s A Question For Our Media Friends

With last week’s statement by Hennco Attorney Mike Freeman that the “good samaritan” who shot Darren Evanovich acted in justifiable self-defense, I have a question for the Twin Cities media.

I’ll direct it first and foremost at my, well, good acquaintance, Bob Collins at MPR, who wrote a piece on the NewsCut blog which asked the question “A concealed carry ‘success’ or ‘failure’?” and concluded  – based on the sketchy facts and deeply incomplete and, I suggest, fatally slanted reporting the story got in the Twin Cities mainstream media – “it’s unclear whether [the Evanovich case] is a matter of the law gone right or gone wrong”.

Last week’s release from the Hennco attorney’s office answered that question.


Since 2005 – when the Minnesota Personal Protection Act was re-passed by an overwhelming bi-partisan vote – there have been exactly four shootings involving Minnesota carry permit holders (that I’m aware of – and someone will no doubt set me straight if I’m not):

  • The Evanovich case – which I’ve been writing about this past few weeks pretty extensively. Details of the shoot are here and here.  The denouement is here.
  • The Grumpy’s case, in which a bouncer was attacked by drunken, tossed-out patron with a knife; the bouncer was also never arrested,
  • The Treptow case – a deeply controversial case involving a citizen who shot (and very mildly wounded) a road-raging thug who was pointing a gun at his pregnant wife…who turned out to be an undercover cop affiliated with the disgraced Gang Strike Force.  While Treptow was never arrested, the Anoka County Attorney basically buried him in charges (the Anoka County Attorney went to a grand jury and got a three-count indictment against Treptow and another against the cop, Robbinsdale Police officer Landon Beard. The Anoka County attorney’s office then pushed the case over to Washington County, where the county attorney dropped the indictment against Beard) forcing a plea bargain leaving Treptow with a felony rap and a 60 day sentence.  The case is broadly regarded as a travesty and a miscarriage of and an example of government protecting its own. Treptow has, by the way, had his civil rights restored.
  • The Nye’s case – which involved a drunken patron shooting a bouncer at Nye’s Polonaise in Northeast Minneapolis.  The shooter wasn’t carrying his pistol – after being ejected, he went home and got it – and his permit was one of the pre-2005 variety issued largely to people with connections with the county sheriff, so it’s not really applicable to MPPA-era permit laws.

In addition to these, there have been many – according to some closely involved with the issue, “hundreds” – of “Defensive Gun Uses” (DGUs) that never made the news, because no shots were fired.  From scaring off thugs in the skyway to warding off carjackers to holding a murder suspect for police, Minnesota carry permittees have racked up a solid record of…

…well, doing what they’re supposed to do and not doing what they’re not supposed to.

Which is not what Wes Skoglund warned us about.

Now, maybe it’s true that something that doesn’t happen isn’t really news.

Given the dire, almost paranoid warnings we got from the Twin Cities media, and the space outlets like the Strib have given the likes of Wes Skoglund and Heather Martens to spread them over the years, I’d beg to differ.

Did I Hear That Correctly?

I caught Heather Martens – astroturf mistress from “Citizens For A Safer Minnesota” – on Channel 9’s late debate segment last night, along with my old friend John Caile.

And while there were the inevitable lapses of reality from Martens (as bad as the media was at covering last week’s Evanovich shooting story, I don’t recall anyone reporting that the citizen “chased Evanovich down and shot him in the back”.  City Pages, maybe?  Set me straight if I’m wrong; she also said the Evanovich shooting was “investigated” in such a way as I wondered if she thought that wasn’t the usual procedure…), there was the realization that perhaps we were seeing an epochal sea change.

Martens said the Evanovich shooting was justified,

When even Heather Martens has given up, you know there’s been a sea change on this subject.

By the way – congrats Wisconsin on joining the ranks of states that recognize the human right of self-defense.

Martens called


No Charges

Channel Five is reporting that the man who shot Darren Evanovich after he pistol-whipped a 53 year old woman last week won’t be charged:

That word today from the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office.

But the sister of the dead robber faces two counts of Aggravated First Degree Robbery.

Authorities say they believe 20-year-old Octavia Marberry of Minneapolis has possibly been involved as an accomplice in this and two other store parking lot robberies.

Frankly, I’m just a tad stunned.

Even though the case was apparenlty a good enough example of self-defense to keep even the Henco Attorney’s office off the “good samaritan”‘s case.

The reporter for The Five did a signal job of actually getting the facts straight:

According to the criminal complaint, on Thursday, October 20th, a 53-year-old woman was robbed just before 10:00 p.m. outside the Cub Foods on 26th Avenue and struck in the head by a gun held by the robber, 23-year-old Darren Evanovich.

Minneapolis Police say their investigation showed that at least two other people were with him and one of them was Marberry.

After Evanovich took the woman’s purse, all three ran off in a northwest direction, police say.

That’s when a man who witnessed the robbery chased Evanovich.

According to witnesses, the man drove up to the spot where he saw Evanovich going through the victim’s purse and asked him if he wanted to give the purse back.

Witnesses say that’s when it started to turn ugly–Evanovich pointed his gun at the “Good Samaritan,” and moved towards him.

The man in the vehicle pulled out his handgun and shot Evanovich.

Authorities say after they reviewed the circumstances, they determined that the man “acted in self-defense.”

To be honest, I expected Henco Attorney Mike Freeman to try to find some pretext for throwing the book at the shooter.

I’m pleasantly surprised:

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said today in a press release, “While this man is to be commended for helping his fellow citizen in need, a note of caution is appropriate.  We prefer that armed citizens do not chase after criminals.  Too much can go wrong with deadly consequences.”

Nobody who took concealed carry class needs to be told twice.

As my carry teacher, the late Joel Rosenberg, told us over and over again, shooting in self-defense is the second-worst possible outcome.  Your kids growing up without a parent, when you yourself did nothing wrong, is worse.

Matt McKinney’s Whitewash Job

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!

No, really:

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.

Continue reading

Deterred: A Few Details

From the Minnesota Carry Forum, unverified but utterly plausible information about the pistol-whipping victim in the Evanovich case:

A little inside firsthand facts directly from the pistol whipped lady (my wife knows who she is from work) and overheard her talking today about it. There was 3 perps. (dead guy, his sister, one still unknown one) I don’t know why the news or police have not released that info unless they are looking for the third scumbag still. The mugged lady was told “give me your purse” to which she replied “fuck you” to the now dead mugger when he told her to give it up. Probably the reason she got hit. You wont get the most the facts by watching the news or police releases. She is in her lower 50,s, hispanic and now has 2 black eyes from the pistol whipping along with a small cut on the head.

So while it’s not odd that Evanovich’s sisters have mentioned this, one wonders if the media – who breathlessly carried their attacks on the shooter – know that Evanovich (and, allegedly, his sister) were engaged in brutally attacking a hispanic office cleaner for a few bucks?

A source with considerable knowledge in the area, asked his opinion of this case, writes about the speculation about the shooter’s case.  Asked what he thought about the good samaritan’s chances of getting indicted, he responded:

[Henco Attorney Mike] Freeman can always do what he wants, but he’s not completely tone-deaf, and…

  • There are LOTS of believable ways that this was a good shoot, and very few (and all pretty far-fetched) ways that it was not.
  • Who ya gonna believe? The heroic guy with all the clean background checks, or the felon in illegal possession of a gun while committing a violent crime?
  • The cops have essentially called it a good shoot. They might even be pissed if he gets charged.
  • There has been no real bloody-shirt-waving by the “community.” This little thug brought it on himself, and no one but his sisters are saying otherwise.

This could get much more interesting.  Stay tuned.

A Family Matter

Not a lot of updates in last week’s case in Minneapolis, where a “good samaritan” with a carry permit chased 23 year old Darren Evanovich after seeing Evanovich “pistol-whipping” a 53 year old woman in the parking lot of a grocery store.  Evanovich, so the story goes, ran and then turned and pointed a gun at the samaritan, who allegedly shot Evanovich dead.

Earlier this week, several Twin Cities media outlets – WCCO-TV, KSTP-TV, Rick Kupchella’s “Bring Me The News”, and Bob Collins’ column at MPR – all ran stories featuring Evanovich’s mother and sisters complaining that it was wrong that a citizen shot their son/brother – that the Samaritan should have called the police (without mentioning the allegations that Evanovich had pointed a lethal weapon at the Samaritan).

One of Evanovich’s other sisters apparently got a little more involved in the case:

Tuesday police arrested the sister of a robber who was shot and killed by a witness last week.

Officers believe Octavia Marberry was with her brother, Darren Evanovich at the time of the robbery at Cub Foods on 26th Avenue South last Thursday.

Marberry is facing charges of aiding and abetting her brother.

One of the sisters has apparently started a facebook page, “Justice For Darren Evanovich“.  Someone whose comments got deleted from that page started another, “Darren Evanovich Got Justice“, in response.  They’re both about as depressing as you might expect.


We don’t really know what happened behind the Cub store near Lake and Hiawatha last week, in an incident in which one Darren Evanovich allegedly robbed a woman in the parking lot, pistol-whipped her, was chased by a Good Samaritan, allegedly drew a pistol on the samaritan, and was in turn shot dead.  I published the details that were available in the media last week; not much else seems to have come up, other than the fact that the Minneapolis Police declined to arrest the man – generally a good sign – and the Hennepin County Attorney’s office is evaluating whether or not to prosecute.

This didn’t stop Channel Five’s Tim Sherno from running a – I’m going to pick my words carefully – bizarre piece interviewing the sisters of the victim in the shooting.

Evanovich’s sisters say they know what their brother was doing was wrong, but they say the police should have handled the response because they’re trained to deal with crimes in progress.

I heard the audio from this piece – which is, sadly, not online at the moment.  And I almost drove off the road.

What do you think police “training” tells a cop to do, Evanovich sisters, when he sees a guy with a gun?

They are trained to order him to drop it and, if he doesn’t, shoot him without a lot of further ado!

Johnita Beal says the witness should have dialed 911, “Police could have been easily contacted, easily, and my brother would have been behind bars, or something like that, but no, he’s gone now.”

That is true.

And he’d have gotten away, since the police simply can’t be everywhere, and he’d have gone on to pistol-whip (allegedly) some other woman sooner than later.

But what about your brother, Madames Beal and Evanovich?  Leaving aside the robbery that started the incident – your brother is dead because he allegedly drew a gun on a guy who was chasing him for robbing and beating an old woman. Your brother could easily have killed the other man.  That – if the story checks out – is why it’s called “self-defense”.

Have you thought about that?

I’m sorry for your loss.  A brother is a terrible thing to lose.  But he might have made some different choices, under the circumstances – we see this, right?

And all the rest of you would-be robbers out there – if this story pans out, and the case is ruled justifiable (I’m crossing my fingers), does it give you any pause about, oh, I dunno, attacking and robbing people, and waving guns in the faces of people who lift a finger to stop you?

UPDATE: Rick Kupchella’s “Bring Me The News” spoke with Evanovich’s mother, who is claiming he was “the victim”.

Two stories doesn’t make a trend – it’s possible that two simultaneous, produced, sympathetic stories just happened to appear at almost the same time.

I don’t believe it, but it’s possible.

If you see any other media coverage, let me know.  Two is a coincidence.  Three’s a campaign.

Why We Need Better Self-Defense Laws. Maybe.

shooting  by reported carry-permit holder in South Minneapolis may just illustrate the problems facing the law-abiding citizen.

We’ come back to that.  First, the reported details:

A man was fatally shot Thursday night in south Minneapolis in what may have been a case of self-defense by another man who interrupted a robbery, police said.

Just before 10 p.m., police got a 911 report that someone had been shot in a parking area behind the Super Grand Buffet restaurant about a block west of Cub Foods near the intersection of Lake Street and Minnehaha Avenues, according to police spokesman Sgt. William Palmer.

Among all the shootings that have plagued that neighborhood – which is, by the way, my old neighborhood – over the decades, this one is distinguished by one factor:

When police arrived, a man with a gun who said he had a valid concealed-weapon permit told them he had interrupted the robbery of a woman in her 60s. The man said that he chased the robbers, a male and a female, exchanged fire and killed the male robber.

And if you’re a normal person with a living soul (and, of course, all the facts check out), that’s all it takes; guy interrupts two pieces of vermin not just robbing but (according to some media reports) pistol-whipping an older woman; and gives chase. Robber turns to shoot the good samaritan; samaritan shoots first.

But the Hennepin County Attorney’s office aren’t people – they’re prosecutors.  People who not only focus on the letter of the law, but the letters of the law that their bosses want empasized; they work for an office whose tacit purpose, run as it is by a DFL elected official, is to enforce DFL social policy, which is that only urban thugs and the police should have guns, and that we, the law-abiding, should be disarmed and docile.

Police took both the alleged female robber and shooter into custody while they investigate his account of the shooting. Two guns — one from the slain man, one from the shooter — were recovered, Palmer said.

On the one hand – especially if you’re a resident of a long-blighted neighborhood, or have ever had a grandmother – you can sympathize with the guy chasing the scumbags down. You might even root for the guy – I sure would.

But there are two problems here:

Self Defense Law Starts Our Shooter Out With Two Strikes – The problem with self-defense is that it is an “affirmative defense” – you’re saying “Yes, I killed the guy, but I have an excuse”.  In other words, you essentially plead guilty to murder, and spend the trial process fighting that admitted guilt by proving four things:

  • You had reasonable fear of death or great bodily harm. No problem in this case (as reported): scumbag, who had just pistol-whipped a defenseless woman, points a gun at the samaritan.  It’s reasonable.
  • Lethal force was justified under the circumstances – Hello?  It’s a gun.  Two down.
  • You weren’t a willing participant in the incident – This is intended to prevent people from claiming self-defense after, say, bar fights.  This wasn’t (reportedly) a bar fight.  Any rational person gets this.  But some pencil-necked dweeb with big political ambitions who is trying to parlay a U of M Law degree into a political career, sitting in a nice warm office with metal detectors and cops protecting him, can decide “the letter of the law is you can not be involved in the scuffle first”, forcing the samaritan to spend his life’s savings defending himself at trial.
  • You made reasonable efforts to avoid using lethal force – And that same pencil-necked lawyer can say “he made NO effort to avoid shooting the alleged robber!  He chased the poor disadvantaged fellow!”.

This – if all the facts are as reported, as I am assuming they are – is why we need more reforms to Minnesota’s self-defense laws like those proposed in the past several sessions by Tony Cornish.  A key reform would be to do what many states do, with great success; give self-defense the presumption of innocence until proven guilty; make the Assistant County Attorney prove the self-defense shooter didn’t meet the criteria of a self-defense shooting.

“But that’ll make it easy for people to shoot each other over fender-benders!  Or because someone thinks they got the stink-eye!”  Nope.  Think of every non-justified shooting – like, second-degree murder – that you can remember.  Find one that that meets the four critera above.  Good luck with that.

I’m going to hope that saner heads prevail in this case.  Of course, the Henco Attorney’s office has a long record of not having many of them, when it comes to the law-abiding citizen’s right to self-defense.