DULUTH — In a viral social media post, a Duluth police officer recounted how he "almost shot an 'unarmed Black man'" while responding to a gunfire scene early Thursday, Aug. 27.
Sgt. Matt McShane excoriated "the media, professional athletes, politicians and social media warriors" who he said "bash us day in and day out" in a post that had more than 155,000 shares from the Duluth Police Union Local 807 Facebook page by Tuesday morning, Sept. 1.
McShane said he and other officers raced to the scene after an officer personally witnessed gunfire break out. Officials later confirmed no one was injured in the incident, which was reported at 2:20 a.m. on the 100 block of West Third Street in Duluth.
McShane wrote that his partners found two suspects who were fighting, and that when he arrived on scene he found the officers struggling to detain one. He said his partners yelled at him to stop the second man, who then took off on foot.
"I yell for him to stop and he turns and runs," the sergeant wrote. "Where is the gun? Does he still have it? Is he going to shoot me? My partners? Is he (an) innocent person just out for a walk? I give chase, he continues to run around a corner. Is he going to ambush me when I turn the corner? Where is the gun?"
McShane said he repeatedly yelled at the man to stop and put his hands in the air as he and another officer gained ground, but the suspect refused to comply. The sergeant wrote that he pulled his pistol and put his finger on the trigger.
"Is this it?" McShane wrote. "Is he going to shoot us? Am I going to have to shoot this man to save myself and others? Will my wife wake up a widow, will my children no longer have their father? Is our community going to change forever because of me? Will everything burn only because we want to help? Because we want to live and not die? Because we don't want to see innocent people in our community die? All of this in about half a second."
The situation ended without major incident, McShane wrote, when his partner tackled the suspect and they wrestled him under control.
The man, he said, was unarmed because he had thrown his stolen gun into some bushes before the officers gave chase.
Two suspects, ages 32 and 30, were arrested, according to police. McShane wrote that a total of 17 shots had been fired.
"When the dust settled, officers had cuts and bruises and two multi-convicted felons went to jail unharmed, but it was only 1/16 of a squeeze from changing our world forever," the sergeant wrote. "All of this while you slept comfortably in your homes, safe from the wolves who roam our streets."
McShane asked for people to "stop pushing the false narrative" and "wait for the facts" to emerge before passing judgment on critical incidents.
While not specifically referenced in the post, last week saw nationwide protests over the nonfatal police shooting of 29-year-old Jacob Blake, a Black man in Kenosha, Wis. Numerous sporting events have been postponed as athletes and activists called for racial justice after a summer that has also seen the death of George Floyd while in custody of Minneapolis police.
Duluth Police Chief Mike Tusken also shared McShane's post, writing that "being a cop in 2020 is as tough as it gets."
"Officers seek to protect and serve their community by placing aside their fear and knowing they may be asked to lay down their lives for a fellow citizen, officer, or stranger," he said. "They do not ask for recognition or accolades but appreciate respect and a simple thank you."
The gunfire incident was not reported to the media or public at any point prior to McShane's viral post. The Duluth Police Department did not provide any confirmation of it until 1:40 p.m. Friday, following inquiries from Forum News Service and more than 16 hours after the account was shared on the union's Facebook page.
McShane has been a Duluth police officer for more than 19 years and was named the 2008 investigator of the year. He was suspended for 30 days without pay in 2011 after he admitted to making false statements and violating procedures for drug field-testing, resulting in the dismissal of two cases.
McShane admitted to the conduct and was allowed to remain employed under a "final and last chance agreement" brokered between his union and the city. He was promoted to sergeant in 2014.