Matt McKinney responds

Matt McKininey is the Star Tribune reporter who has covered the case of one-man crime wave Darren Evanovich, the armed robber who was killed when he pulled his gun on a good citizen who went after him after he pistol whipped a woman whom he had relieved of her purse. The incident occurred in south Minneapolis on October 21. A week later the Star Tribune published McKinney’s story “Armed robber knew the right path, but was unable to follow it” (posted online on October 27).

The day that McKinney’s story was published the Hennepin County Attorney’s office charged Evanovich’s sister with two counts of aggravated first degree robbery, one of which arose from the incident described in McKinney’s article, and released a statement absolving the citizen who had come to the crime victim’s assistance for acting in self-defense when he shot Evanovich: “According to witnesses, the man who shot Evanovich drove up to where he saw Evanovich going through the victim’s purse and asked him if he wanted to give the purse back. Instead, Evanovich pointed his gun at the man and moved towards him, so the man in the vehicle pulled out his handgun, for which he has a permit to carry, and shot Evanovich.”

The statement included a quote from County Attorney Mike Freeman commended the unnamed good citizen “for helping his fellow citizen in need” (while injecting a note of caution regarding citizens chasing after criminals on their own). McKinney covered the charges against Evanovich’s sister and the County Attorney’s statement in “Man who shot Minneapolis robber won’t be charged.”

Mitch Berg blasted McKinney’s sympathetic portrait of Evanovich and his misrepresentation of the incident in which he was killed in “Matt McKinney’s whitewash job.” Ed Morrissey followed up in “Hennepin County makes the right choice in Good Samaritan shooting.” I cited these posts and commented in “The gang that couldn’t shoot straight.” I characterized McKinney’s October 28 story as “deeply deceptive.” I confessed that I had “stupidly relied” on McKinney’s story for an understanding of the case.

McKinney has now sent a message to me with a copy to Mitch Berg (how did Ed Morrissey fall outside the circle of love?) responding to the criticism of his October 28 article on Evanovich. McKinney gives as the subject of his message “a deeply deceptive blog post,” which I believe refers to Mitch’s post because that is the one from which he quotes in his message. McKinney explains that at the time he wrote his October 28 article he did not have access to the charges filed on that date or to the County Attorney’s statement released on that date together with the charges. Here is McKinney’s message in its entirety verbatim:

Regarding criticism of my reporting on the Evanovich case:

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.

Below is the Oct. 21 police statement from which my story was drawn.

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. What is contained in the police statement is that the victim was hit in the head with a weapon and that she suffered a cut that was “not considered to be serious.” We reported that she was hit in the head with a weapon.

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.

What is contained in the Oct. 21 police statement is that the armed witness chased Evanovich to a spot near the Super Grand Buffet and shot him. That’s what we reported. 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.

It was only in our attempt to give readers the best, most reliable and clear information that the phrase was not used. If we had known the details of the confrontation, we would have reported them, just as we did on the afternoon of Oct. 28 the minute we learned from the Hennepin County Attorney’s office what had actually happened.

The blogger errs again when it comes to Octavia Marberry [i.e., Evanovich’s sister]. We did not know that Marberry was part of the robbery, that she allegedly participated with her brother in the robberies or that she threatened the victim at the time the story in question was written. As with the information about Evanovich pointing a gun at the armed witness, the details of Marberry’s involvement were not known until the afternoon of Oct. 28. Again, we put that information online immediately upon learning the details, and put it in print the following morning.

The Oct. 21 Minneapolis police statement on the shooting of Darren Evanovich [follows]…

Matt McKinney

I have added the emphasis above in McKinney’s message. Here is the text of the October 21 police report that McKinney includes in his message:

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.

I took from McKinney’s October 28 story that the good citizen had chased Evanovich down and shot him in cold blood. That is the way McKinney’s story reads. That is why I characterized McKininey’s story as deeply deceptive. That is why I say I stupidly relied on McKinney’s story for my understanding of the case.

McKinney now asserts in his defense that he didn’t mean to deceive, that his story was only unintentionally deceptive. Yet on the crucial point, which I have emphasized in McKinney’s message above, McKinney states that he resolved the ambiguity of the October 21 police report simply by omitting any reference to the confrontation, which turns out to be the key to understanding the incident.

Is that the way they teach you to do it in journalism school?


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