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Old December 2, 2008, 12:28 PM   #1
spacemanspiff
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Be a peacemaker? Or do nothing?

Downtown shooting victim was Army MP
CHARGES: Felon just out of jail accused of killing Fort Rich GI outside The Woodshed Lounge.
By LISA DEMER ldemer@adn.com
Published: December 1st, 2008 11:12 PM
Last Modified: December 1st, 2008 12:05 AM

A convicted felon just 16 days out of jail is accused of shooting and killing a Fort Richardson soldier after a confrontation early Sunday in downtown Anchorage.

The suspect, Vongdeuane Vongthongdy, 26, was on probation for felony assault with a weapon at the time of the shooting. He isn't supposed to have a gun. But as he walked out of The Woodshed Lounge, he brandished a semiautomatic pistol and fired into the air, according to court papers detailing the charges against him.

Army Sgt. Evan Minnear, 24, an off-duty military police officer, approached the shooter. Witnesses later said he was trying to calm the situation and get Vongthongdy to stick around until Anchorage police arrived, the charges say.

But Minnear, who lasted through a 15-month tour in Iraq, wouldn't survive the encounter on Anchorage's streets. He died of a bullet to the upper torso.

Minnear grew up in Indiana, the older of two boys, a wrestler and cross-country runner in high school. His parents split up when he was young and his mom raised the boys around her large extended family, his aunt, Joni Breeden, said by phone from Anderson, Ind., Minnear's hometown. He liked being the protector, she said.

"The last time he was home was September '06, right before he went to Iraq. He was real excited. We were scared to death of, course," Breeden said.

He had bulked up, she said: "He went from this skinny blond kid to this buff man."

When Minnear's unit returned safely to the United States, his aunt said, "we quit worrying."

Outside The Woodshed early Sunday, a surveillance camera captured the event, though from a distance. It all happened just before 1 a.m.

Vongthongdy and four other men left the bar together. He had his gun out, pointed it in the air and bumped into a wall, the court papers say.

"His friends gathered him up and they had him put the gun away and walked off," the papers say.

Three of them then approached a silver Mercedes. Vongthongdy again held up the gun and this time fired a shot, which got other patrons' attention, the papers say. The Mercedes sped off.

Minnear, his girlfriend and another friend were leaving at about the same time as Vongthongdy and his group. Lounge security called a cab to take Minnear and his companions home. Then they heard the gunshot. Minnear walked toward the shooter. The women called for him to come back and wait for the cab. He didn't.

"As they walked toward the scene of the shooting, the girlfriend described that the shooter 'got into Evan's face' and Evan pushed the shooter away," the charging document says.

The man again pulled out his gun. The other woman in the trio said she shouted, "Put the f-----g gun down." In that same instant, Minnear was shot in the upper torso.

The video showed that three people either slipped or were pushed to the ground, including Minnear. As he got back up, Vongthongdy shot him, the court papers say.

One of Vongthongdy's companions told police the group didn't drink much during the half hour or so they were at The Woodshed. He said he did not feel threatened by the man who came up to the group asking about the gunshot. He said he never saw a weapon on Minnear but saw him push both Vongthongdy and another man. He then saw Vongthongdy shoot Minnear, according to the papers.

Callers told police the suspects took off in a small, dark sedan. Officers got to the area of Third Avenue and F Street and found Minnear, badly wounded. He was taken to a hospital, where he died about four hours later.

An off-duty probation officer saw the shooting and told police the shooter was Vongthongdy. An officer saw a dark sedan speeding off. Minutes after the first 911 call, police stopped the car at Ninth Avenue and E Street. Vongthongdy was a passenger. A pistol was visible in the front seat, the court papers say.

Vongthongdy eventually told police investigators that "he recalled everything except shooting the man." He said he knew he wasn't supposed to have a gun but "carried one for protection," the court papers say. He was sorry when he heard that Minnear was in the military. "He blamed his conduct on being drunk," according to the papers.

Vongthongdy was convicted last year of assault with a weapon, court records show. He was sent to jail in October after failing to report to his probation officer and admitting to the use of marijuana and methamphetamine. He got out Nov. 14.

Minnear's family is struggling to grasp what took him so fast, so randomly, his aunt said. It's like they are watching events unfold on TV, she said.

Minnear's girlfriend, who is in the military, and fellow soldiers called the family in Indiana on Monday.

"They told us he was well loved and a great guy and a leader," Breeden said.

He loved the outdoors and ran and hunted in Alaska, she said.

Minnear joined the Army in January 2003 and had been at Fort Richardson since October 2005. His unit returned from Iraq in November 2007, according to a Fort Richardson spokesman. In November of this year, he returned from a month at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, Calif.

He was assigned to the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division.

He had signed up for another four years and envisioned a long military career, Breeden said.

Now the family is making funeral arrangements.

Vongthongdy is being held at the Anchorage jail on $250,000 bail on charges of second-degree murder, third-degree weapons misconduct and fourth-degree weapons misconduct.

At his initial court appearance Monday, he said he didn't have a job or any money. The judge appointed him a public defender.

A young woman in military uniform took notes at the hearing. She said she was a friend of Minnear's girlfriend, who was too upset to be there.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Find Lisa Demer online at adn.com/contact/ldemer or call 257-4390.

http://www.adn.com/crime/story/608370.html
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Old December 2, 2008, 12:38 PM   #2
Bauer
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Well first of all much respect to this person, and condolences to his friends and family.

It seemed he was way too confident in his actions of approaching. I suppose this might be due to surviving a 15 month tour in Iraq, but this is just speculation. If I was carrying I probably wouldn't do anything besides be prepared. It isn't worth getting shot because some drunken idiot wants to shoot his gun in the air.
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Old December 2, 2008, 12:59 PM   #3
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First rule of a gunfight is...have a gun.
Second rule of a gunfight is...see rule one.

What occurred was predictable, and Minnear, while brave, was ultimately foolish and reckless. Confronting someone with a firearm when you yourself do not possess one isn't something anyone should ever undertake.

I'm not saying he's to blame for his own death or that he had it coming or deserved to be shot or anything dumb like that, but he did not exercise good judgment.
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Old December 2, 2008, 01:20 PM   #4
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my condolences as well to his Family. hopefully this felon gets the sentence he deserves and is locked up for life.
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Old December 2, 2008, 01:56 PM   #5
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My condolences. He was either very brave or very foolish.

As it's been said, "First rule of gunfight - bring a gun."

Another good saying is, "If you can't meet the threat AT LEAST equally, stay out of it."

IMO, he shoulda backed away from this one.
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Old December 2, 2008, 02:01 PM   #6
Brian Pfleuger
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The only gunfight I'll be in is the one that comes to me.

I *MIGHT* interject myself to help someone I don't know, too many variables to say for sure, but I most certainly WILL NOT inject myself into a gunfight.
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Old December 2, 2008, 02:51 PM   #7
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Theres some key details that are missing.
My first thought is that Vongthongdy was quite intoxicated. Personal knowledge of this bar the Woodshed is that their security is very proactive at throwing out people who are intoxicated. They have a reputation for making examples out of people who do not quickly obey their directions. Was the group being thrown out of the bar? Was that why Vongthongdy started to brandish?

What was the condition of Minnear before the incident? How intoxicated was he? It makes sense that Minnear would not feel that an armed individual is automatically a threat, after spending 15 months in Iraq and probably around a lot of indigenous people who do carry weapons, I can understand that he might not sense the danger of approaching someone that is armed.

Vongthongdy is a familiar name here in Anchorage, just last week drug task forces made several arrests of drug traffickers, and one of those charged but still on the run is Phonesavanh Vongthongdy. http://www.adn.com/crime/story/601981.html

Violence on the weekends outside of local bars downtown appears to be on the rise. Two weekends ago there was a shooting outside an all ages club, no injuries. A few minutes after this shooting, there was another shooting a few blocks away, the victim in that incident is going to be alright, the shooter is still unknown.
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Old December 2, 2008, 03:02 PM   #8
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This whole incident is an indictment of the justice system up here. Its frustrating to the Police and Feds that the prosecutors don't take stuff seriously.

If the actor would have been locked up, this wouldnt have happened.

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Old December 2, 2008, 03:05 PM   #9
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Quote:
First rule of a gunfight is...have a gun.
Second rule of a gunfight is...see rule one.
With all due respect to Ralph Mroz, who I believe is credited with that, IMO the first rule of a gunfight is not to get into a gunfight.
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Old December 2, 2008, 03:08 PM   #10
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David Armstrong:
Quote:
With all due respect to Ralph Mroz, who I believe is credited with that, IMO the first rule of a gunfight is not to get into a gunfight.
Truth.
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Old December 2, 2008, 03:09 PM   #11
Brian Pfleuger
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Armstrong
IMO the first rule of a gunfight is not to get into a gunfight.

Boy have you got that right. I'll let Batman handle the hero business.
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Old December 2, 2008, 05:22 PM   #12
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I'm sorry to hear about this. It's very unfortunate that someone who devoted his life to protecting his country is killed by someone in it. I don't know all of the details concerning this situation, so all I would say is that if there was a means of escape, he should have taken it. Unless... there was another person who was about to be a victim and he gave his life to save theirs. Either way God Bless him. Just my little opinion.
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Old December 2, 2008, 08:38 PM   #13
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There are always two sides to every story.

When you read this article, your first thought is that Vongthongdy is clearly in the wrong and he does hold the bulk of the liability for brandishing and firing his weapon in public without any provocation.

However, the other side of the story is that Minnear appears that he was approaching Vongthongdy in an intimidating and hostile manner and there were words exchanged.

Many police officers and non-officers who regularly carry weapons know that the best solution to this is not to become involved even if you are armed with a weapon. The best solution is to simply take cover in a safe area until the threat has diminished. Even if you are armed, you have no backup, radio or bodyarmor. The chances of survival in this scenario are notoriously slim even if you are armed with a pistol.

Vongthondy was just shooting into the air and his friends had him under a reasonable amount of control. Minnear's best solution would have been to run for cover and place distance in between himself and the shooter and wait until Vongthondy left.

However, Minnear violated many common sense rules and openly approached a man with a pistol further taunting him with words and aggressive gestures to the point where there was a physical scuffle.

While this is a tragic situation, Minnear didnt do the right thing. Im not certain what Minnear was expecting. Did he think that Vongthondy would simply lay down his pistol on the ground after being yelled at in an aggressive manner?
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Old December 2, 2008, 09:06 PM   #14
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Getting killed while trying to impress your gf is a pretty lame reason to die to me...
None of us were there, and cant possibly pass judgment, but from our point of view as the not so omniscient observer, I cant really understand why he did what he did... No one in immediate threat, no way to project force, and no reason to intervene...
As much respect as I have for those in the military, if its one thing I have learned in a military town is that people in the military are in no way perfect people... Its totally possible he just wanted to prove how cool he was to other people... or maybe he was just really well meaning and it went south... or maybe he had a really good reason to intervene that wasnt reported, we just dont know...
either way.... very sad story and i wish it didnt happen
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Old December 2, 2008, 09:12 PM   #15
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Live and let live.

This guy was acting like a drunk idiot with a gun. That's not someone I care to go reason with. It's also not someone I would consider shooting because as I read the story they were being stupid and dangerous...but not actually threatening anyone. Armed or unarmed I leave someone acting like that alone and go the opposite way until I find some good cover.
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Old December 2, 2008, 10:09 PM   #16
spacemanspiff
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Quote:
Getting killed while trying to impress your gf is a pretty lame reason to die to me
Then you stated:
Quote:
None of us were there, and cant possibly pass judgment
Appears as if you have already passed judgement.
Where does the article indicate Minnear was trying to inflate his ego?

Anyone reading know about Dram Shop law? I think that Minnears family could press a civil suit against the bar. Few people realize that when a bar/restaurant serves someone alcohol, or a liquor store sells alcohol to a person, they can be found liable for the intoxicated persons actions, for either causing, or contributing to, the persons level of intoxication.
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Old December 2, 2008, 10:20 PM   #17
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I think that miniar was trying to keep other people safe. Randomly firing a gun in the air could get somone killed. Although approaching a man with a gun when you dont have one is not a smart thing to do, but his intentions were good. I think his killer is a complete scum bag and I hope he gets butt raped in jail. A brave hero of our country is dead because of some thug scum-of-the-earth guy who thought he was "gangsta" I hope he rots in hell.
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Old December 2, 2008, 10:20 PM   #18
KLRANGL
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Quote:
Appears as if you have already passed judgement.
im pretty sure I didnt...
Just cuz I said it was a bad reason, doesnt mean I said it was his reason... just that is could have been one...

Quote:
Where does the article indicate Minnear was trying to inflate his ego?
It doesnt, nor did I say it was...
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Old December 2, 2008, 10:28 PM   #19
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I have passed judgement and my judgement is that they heard a few shots go off. Instead of seeking cover and putting distance between themselves and the shooter they instead chose to move towards the threat and antagonize the shooter with words.

My judgement is that this wasnt the wisest thing to do. Why would you move closer and negotiate with an intoxicated man brandishing a firearm? The right thing to do was to seek an area of safety away from the shooter...
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Old December 2, 2008, 10:37 PM   #20
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I am a cop. A few months ago, I was at the Fairbanks Wal-Mart (off duty) and heard a commotion at the front of the store. Turns out it was a fight between members of rival gangs. Yes, even Fairbanks has gang activity. A store employee had been assaulted and I spoke to her. She pointed out the individual who hit her and told me the cops were on their way. I told her I was off duty and would keep an eye on the perp until Fairbanks PD arrived. I did not approach him, just watched him to make sure he did not escape till cops arrived. I was armed, but even so, I felt it was wiser just to be a witness until the cavalry arrived. I was not wearing armor and was not sure if he was armed. At the academy we were trained that unless lives are in imminent danger not to intervene when off duty.

It sounds like it was an unwise decision on this guys part to get involved and it cost him his life. However, I was not there and do not know all details so I will not pass judgement. Maybe he believed someone was in imminent danger.
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Old December 2, 2008, 10:56 PM   #21
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Another reason to drink at home

My condolances to his family...quite a price to pay for a lapse in judgement. I can remember being young and immortal and barely survived that stage of life. He may just not have shifted gears to realize he didn't have body armour, an M-16 and his squad behind him.
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Old December 3, 2008, 08:16 AM   #22
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First off I wasn't there and don't know anyone involved but we had a similar situation here. Off duty LEO sees a guy either rob or shoplift (it has been several years ago so I cannot remember the original offense) and decides to hold him armed with a wine bottle. He strikes the guy on the head and which time the guy shoot and killed him. Where I am going with this the guy in Anchorage was a MP, the guy in Winston was a off duty city cop. I think sometimes younger people who are in emergency services forget that when they are off duty sometimes the best thing to do is observe and call for help. Of course I also agree with Ken in that why wasn't this guy in the pokey?
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Old December 3, 2008, 09:29 AM   #23
grymster2007
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Be a peacemaker? Or do nothing?
Depends. Seems in this case the victim should have gotten into his car and gone home. If the perpetrator had been pistol-whipping a little old woman, intervening in her defense might have been a better reason to die. But, the feeling of invincibility is a common affliction of young people and it sometimes carries dire consequences as is evident here. I did some pretty dumb things as a lad including taking on armed people with nothing but my bare hands. Sometimes I had noble objectives for my actions… and sometimes not.

What is really amiss here is the fact that the creep was walking the streets. He had already been convicted of assault with a weapon and should have still been in jail, hopefully getting traded for a pack of smokes on a regular basis.
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Old December 6, 2008, 02:34 PM   #24
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Be a peacemaker or do nothing?

If you are an off-duty police officer (military or civilian): It depends on the definition of peacemaker. I would prefer to make peace with my piece in my hand from behind cover and followed by loud commands to get on the ground. I would never walk up on an armed man without being armed and ready. However, I would always act if innocent people's lives were in danger. I firmly believe in the priority of life principle and I am trained and willing to to go into harm's way to protect the innocent.

Obviously, it would have been better for the unarmed soldier to call 911, stay on the line and continue to observe from a concealed position so that police could handle the felony stop.

Quote:
However, the other side of the story is that Minnear appears that he was approaching Vongthongdy in an intimidating and hostile manner and there were words exchanged.
Don't turn the brave soldier into the bad guy here. Foolish, yes. But, the drug using, illegally gun toting piece of crap felon who shot an unarmed man is the real villian. He wasn't acting in self defense. He was acting like the scumbag puke POS that he is. One man represented everything that is good about America, the other represented everything that is wrong with America. Unfortunately, the good guy lost. Hopefully, lessons will be learned by everyone who reads the story.
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Old December 6, 2008, 07:00 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Armstrong
With all due respect to Ralph Mroz, who I believe is credited with that,
Mark Moritz, according to my memory. Google (mark moritz gunfight first rule) yields:
http://www.thegunzone.com/have-a-gun.html
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