After Minnetonka police shoot Austin man, family asks why

  • Article by: KELLY SMITH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 24, 2013 - 9:22 PM

The death of the Austin, Minn., 27-year-old was the first fatal officer-involved shooting for the suburban police department.

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Wednesday night’s officer-involved shooting in Minnetonka happened in the underground parking garage at the Claremont Apartments, near the border with Hopkins, where police continued to investigate Thursday night.

Photo: DAVID JOLES • djoles@startribune.com,

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The family of a 27-year-old man shot and killed by Minnetonka police on Wednesday is seeking answers after the first officer-involved fatal shooting in the suburban department’s history.

On Thursday, the Hennepin County medical examiner identified the man, Michael Regner Tray of Austin, Minn., and the case was forwarded to the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office to investigate.

“This is a kid who had a lot to live for,” Tray’s stepfather, Jim Greer of Austin, said Thursday night by phone, his voice breaking up. “He wasn’t a troublemaker. I just don’t understand it, and I probably never will.”

Minnetonka police were called to Claremont Apartments at 10761 Smetana Road just before 8:30 p.m. Wednesday after a resident said a man who didn’t live there had been spotted with a cocked revolver. Police confronted him in the underground parking garage, where he was shot and killed.

Residents at the building said Thursday that the garage floor still showed bloodstains and a car was punctured with bullet holes.

Tray’s death left friends and relatives in Tray’s hometown reeling. Greer said his 27-year-old stepson had recently graduated from St. Cloud State University and had been fixing up his late father’s house in Ottumwa, Iowa, where he found an antique .44 Magnum revolver. Greer said that, after attempted robberies in the area, Tray hadn’t wanted to leave the gun there while he visited his girlfriend at her Minnetonka apartment.

“I just wish he had left it in the car,” Greer said.

He said he suspects Tray brought the revolver inside the apartment so it wouldn’t be stolen. He said Tray’s girlfriend told him that she was on the phone with him when she heard screaming and the line went dead.

“This is a kid who wouldn’t do this, wouldn’t cause trouble … wouldn’t hurt a flea,” he said.

Tray’s college roommate and friend Kyle Hansen agreed. “There’s no way he’d pull a gun out if he saw police. It’s not like the kid,” he said. “I’m in shock. I lost a good friend, and I want answers because something doesn’t add up.”

Tray has no violent criminal record, according to public records.

The names of the Minnetonka police officers involved will be released next week.

5 such deaths so far this year

So far this year, five people have died in officer-involved shootings, according to the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. In 2012, eight people were killed in officer-involved shootings, four of which were in Minneapolis and St. Paul, while three were in metro suburbs. Eight people were also killed in officer-involved shootings in 2011, down from 11 deaths in 2010.

In several high-profile officer-involved shootings in the metro area, officers have later been cleared by grand juries.

This summer, a Richfield police officer was cleared of criminal wrongdoing after shooting and killing a 25-year-old Richfield man in 2012 during a crisis situation involving the man with a knife. Last year, a Golden Valley officer was cleared for the 2011 fatal shooting of an armed woman he had stopped on Interstate 394 for speeding. And last month, Minneapolis police were cleared in the shooting of 22-year-old Terrance Franklin, who was killed after breaking into an Uptown house.

In Austin, Greer said he hopes the investigation into this latest shooting will give his family answers about what happened moments before the gunshots that killed his stepson.

  • Minnesota OFFICER-INvolved shootings

    2010: 11 killed, 4 wounded

    2011: 8 killed, 7 wounded

    2012: 8 killed, 12 wounded

    2013 (so far): 5 killed, 2 wounded

    Source: Bureau of Criminal Apprehension

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