Editor’s note: Steven Markey, 39, of Plymouth, was shot June 11 while parked in his car at 14th and Tyler Street NE. He managed to drive away, but crashed into the NuWay building at 14th and Central Avenue. He later died. Two teenage boys were arrested and charged with second-degree murder of the man they attempted to rob. The Hennepin County Attorney’s office is seeking to have them tried as adults.
Around 4:45 pm, on Tuesday, June 11, I was driving home from the Quarry Cub Foods store. As I turned south on Central Avenue from 18th Avenue, I came upon three police SUVs and an ambulance at the intersection of Central and 14th Avenue. As I got closer, I could see a red Toyota sedan in the street, perpendicular to the curb in front of the NuWay building, at the northwest corner. The large police presence at what appeared to be a traffic accident made me curious, and I turned onto a side street and got out of my car.
As I walked toward the intersection, more police arrived, and officers began blocking Central Avenue, forcing cars to make U-turns. I asked one officer, who had an assault rifle slung across his chest, if I could cross the street to get closer to the ambulance. He said no, the area was a “probable crime scene involving firearms.” Yet more officers appeared, handling traffic and stretching yellow warning tape around light posts. Three SUVs were clustered a block east, at 14th Avenue and Tyler Street.
While this was happening, EMTs were entering and leaving the ambulance, and in a few moments it drove away south, with siren and flashing lights. I shot some photos of the scene; the car had at least one bullet hole near the left rear window.
I was on the scene for about a half-hour. I did not see the victim. It turned out that he was in an ambulance that left for the hospital about ten minutes after I got there. The police were heavily armed (and tight-lipped).The surreal element for me was the lone car, perpendicular to the curb, and the number of police working in absolute silence, that silence only broken by the siren as the ambulance left.
After a couple more questions to the police went unanswered, I went home and posted the photos and a brief description of what I saw on the I Love NE Minneapolis Facebook page. By that time, the 2nd Precinct Minneapolis Crime Watch & Information page had posted that the driver of the Toyota was taken to HCMC with gunshot wounds; I included this in my post, updating it with the information that the victim had died.
At this point that a kind of disjointed Facebook conversation began in response to my post. The first reply: “The driver died from GSW! Road rage; too many guns on the streets.” This was followed by: “Too many violent criminals and … judges who let them go.” “True. The motto around here now is crime pays well.” “If you’re a responsible gun owner, you should have no problem abiding by the law. So what are you afraid of?” And “Tragic. Road rage is terrifying. Is that what this was?” “So bizarre … maybe suspect jumped out of running car?”
A second wave of comments speculated on whether this was a botched drug deal: “I’ve got a feeling that a drug deal went south, on Taylor [sic] at 14th, where police found evidence of the shooting. This new heroin is most likely at the bottom of this incident. Any drug that is so sought after, and is as strong as this hybrid stuff, is always the object of dealers and gangsters with guns.”
These were followed by laments on the current level of Northeast crime, and counterarguments ranging from “My kids are fifth generation in this neighborhood, and we have never been safer.” to “I was NEVER afraid when I grew up there! Nowadays, heck ya [sic] I am! It is nowhere near what it used to be!” Another said, “I call BS! This kind of stuff has always been happening; you just hear and see more of it with everyone in society having a camera on their phone with access to share it easily.”
The 2nd Police Precinct has one of the lowest murder rates in the city; it averages 2-3 per year (this homicide was the third since January 1st). It’s common that perceptions of crime levels often don’t line up with the statistics. The atypical circumstances of the incident (daylight shooting at a car in a low-crime warehouse area) may have heightened the uneasiness of local residents.
The first comments show a mix of anxiety, anger and uncertainty. As news of the capture and confessions of the two suspects spread, the conversation turned to opinions about punishment and rehabilitation, as well as scolding about some comments’ insensitivities to the victim.
‘First off, I am so sorry this happened, 2nd [sic] has anybody started a GoFundMe or something for the victim’s family? 3rd, these are CHILDREN who shot him! Children who obviously need intense intervention, but still children.”
“The two in custody aren’t contributing anything positive to our community. Sad. I’m all for second chances and reform and helping to make people and things better… but I don’t know why we should give these two a second chance? The man they killed didn’t get a second chance. I commute to work on that street every day … brutal.”
“Seems more people are concerned about how harsh people are being towards the criminals than the innocent man that lost his life thanks to the actions of these vermin low life wild animals. These criminals should fry.”
In all, my post drew more than 100 reactions and 40 comments. One final entry read, “There are some really angry people on this thread!”
A 39-year-old man is dead, and two boys, ages 15 and 16, have been arrested and indicted for his murder. It appears to have been a random crime of opportunity in a part of the city where an enormous amount of (mostly) positive economic and social change is taking place. Will the publicity the crime generates worry developers who are promoting continued growth? Will the crime, which took place four blocks from the 2nd precinct headquarters, cause police to modify any crime-fighting procedures? And will residents who live much farther than four blocks away continue to feel an edge of uneasiness about their personal safety?
And what about the anger – will that continue, as well?
Below: The vehicle appears to have bounced off the building, damaging the front end and leaving a trail of fluid. (Photos by Mark Peterson)