The Free Press, Mankato, MN

March 20, 2014

Police: Rump shot likely self-inflicted

Man says he was shot, butt it's doubted

By Dan Nienaber
The Mankato Free Press

---- — MANKATO — This is a Christmas story that Ralphie could probably relate to, except it wasn’t an eye that this guy got shot out.

Police are investigating a report by a Mankato man who said he was randomly shot in the rump while walking downtown Christmas Day.

Authorities suspect the man actually shot himself in the tush while putting a handgun into, or taking it out of, a holster.

The incident remains under investigation and no charges have been filed, so the name of the man isn’t being used for this story — not even in the end.

Police officer Steve Hoppe was called to the Mankato hospital’s Emergency Department on Dec. 25 after the man arrived there and asked to be treated for a bullet wound to his buttocks. Hoppe was almost immediately suspicious about the man’s claim he had been shot while walking in the 200 or 300 block of North Broad Street, according to a search warrant request made last month by police detective Jason Bennett.

The wound didn’t look like it came from a bullet that had been fired by an unseen shooter. Hoppe took pictures that could be used to help prove that later, Bennett said. It was a clean shot that looked like it had been fired from a gun right next to the man’s right butt cheek.

Here’s how Bennett described it in police language:

“Officer Hoppe also observed and photographed evidence to suggest the gunshot wound sustained was at very close proximity, if not a contact wound,” the written request said. “The wound was to (the man’s) right buttocks, and was through-and-through.

“Officer Hoppe indicated that the location would be consistent with an accidental discharge of a right-handed shooter during holstering/unholstering of the firearm, as the entrance wound was at the outer lower right part of the buttocks, and the exit wound was in the upper part of the right thigh. If standing, this would indicate a bullet path was in a downward direction.”

The man told Hoppe he had been visiting his mother and was walking to his car when he was shot. He said he never heard a gunshot and didn’t realize he had been hit until he felt a pinch. The incident had happened about 2 1/2 hours before he decided to go to the hospital, he reported.

Hoppe became more suspicious when the address the man had provided for his mother’s house didn’t exist and, when called, his mother told Hoppe she hadn’t seen her son that day. A gunshot residue test also showed the man had gun powder on his right hand. Hoppe also said he could smell gun powder on the man’s hand.

If the man had shot himself in the keister, he had reason to provide a different story to police. He’s not allowed to own or use firearms because he has felony drunken-driving conviction and domestic abuse violations.

The search warrant was requested to search the man’s phone because he had erased all but a couple of calls he had made or received that day. Part of the reason for the search is that the man wouldn’t tell Hoppe who had given him a ride to the hospital. When the search warrant was filed earlier this month, it said no information was found on the phone.

Bennet’s warrant request said he believes the man’s behavior “is inconsistent with that of an innocent person who was shot while walking down the street on Christmas Day.” He also said he believes the man is being evasive to avoid criminal charges.

The incident remains under investigation and has not been sent to the Blue Earth County Attorney’s Office with a request for charges.