North Texas Daily

UNT student Ryan McMillan, 21, was shot and killed by police on Sunday

UNT student Ryan McMillan, 21, was shot and killed by police on Sunday

Denton, Texas 12/13/2015Police officer Ryan Kane stretches perimeter tape across Fry Street and Oak, as an unidentified male was shot four times by police. Bystanders say they saw the man carrying a pole or axe, but were not sure. Police did not confirm.

UNT student Ryan McMillan, 21, was shot and killed by police on Sunday
December 13
20:27 2015

Dalton LaFerney | News Editor


At the corner of Oak and Fry streets, about a dozen men stood on their lawn Sunday morning, yelling at the police in bewilderment because they had just seen a man shot in the middle of the street.

“That was a senseless goddamn murder!” one man yelled.

The nearest police officer, Ryan Karnes, was guarding the perimeter of the crime scene, where just an hour before Ryan McMillan was shot by a UNT police officer. Officials said he advanced on the officer, which led to him being shot.

“Four times! Point-blank range,” another man yelled.

Across the intersection from the house, which has a yellow cereal box in a second-floor window, a man wearing a white cowboy hat, a white dress shirt and a badge hopped out of his dark Chevy pickup parked in the Christian Campus Center parking lot and stepped foot onto the crime scene.

The rain began to pour, but the investigation would not let up.

The man was a Texas Ranger, whose agency began investigating the shooting with UNT police. The officer who shot McMillan had been placed on administrative leave. A routine course of action, officials at UNT said, for an officer-involved shooting.

Authorities do not know what led up to McMillan’s death, which began as a criminal mischief call to Denton Police. The only bit of information released so far is that McMillan is alleged to have carried an axe and caused thousands of dollars in vehicle damage.

UNT spokeswoman Margarita Venegas said the officer saw him smash at least one car window upon arrival to the intersection.

As officers searched for clues down on the street, a couple sat on the balcony in an apartment next to the Zebra’s Head on Fry Street. The couple was inside when they heard shots but said they didn’t see anything until the gunfire.

When they stepped outside to observe the scene, leaving two children behind to see the justice system at work, they saw a man in the street being tended to by first responders.

“Denton used to be so quiet,” the woman, who did not offer her name, said, calling into question Denton’s public safety.

It was not minutes before that one of the men cursing the police promised to be at the next City Council meeting.

“You better have your f—in’ s–t together,” one man from the house yelled.

“You could have disarmed him,” another followed.

As the two scenes unfolded, it seemed both the couple and the men in the street were coming to terms with reality: a man was shot in the street near their home.

DSC_7911 (1)

First responders secure the scene after Ryan McMillian was shot near the intersection of Fry St. and Oak St. early Sunday morning. Hannah Ridings | Senior Staff Photographer

From the scene

One of the first faces at the scene was Ashley Jones, who said she saw McMillan just before police arrived.

She had only known him as an acquaintance but nonetheless said McMillan didn’t seem quite right when she saw him that night. She rolled down her window to say “Hello,” but what she got in return was McMillan smashing the hood of her car with an axe.

Then the police showed up, there were shots “and that was it,” Jones said.

One relative reached out Sunday to share the family’s confusion. They tried to gather as much as possible to understand why their loved one was killed that morning, they said, and what led to him being shot on a street known for its bar scene.

The relative, who asked not to be identified, said McMillan was an easy-going and caring person.

UNT’s president Neal Smatresk issued a statement via email Sunday morning with condolences and few details about the investigation now taking place. McMillan had just finished his first semester at UNT. He was a pre-hospitality sophomore and transfer student from Weatherford College.

“When the officer arrived, he encountered a white male suspect in the street who was carrying an axe,” Smatresk wrote. “The suspect advanced on the officer and the officer fired at the suspect, who sadly was one of our students. The suspect was the only person injured.”

As the rain cleaned McMillan’s blood from the scene and washed witnesses inside, the storm signaled the season soon to change. 2015, a year to be remembered as the year of viral police-involved shootings, was coming to an end.

In contrast with other, more high-profile officer-involved shootings, this one was between a white suspect and a white officer, though the question of how close McMillan got to the officer was unclear.

As of Sunday evening, authorities did not say when the police camera footage would be released, but a request for that information has been made by the North Texas Daily.

On police-involved shootings

One cannot find accurate data to visualize the fatality count of those killed by police in the United States because there is no warehouse for it. It is something FBI Director James Comey has called “ridiculous,” because not even the feds know how many civilians authorities kill each year.

The Facebook group Killed By Police has a running count of those killed, or at least injured, in police-involved deaths. Its total, which included McMillan’s death, was 1,134 for 2015. Likewise, The Washington Post newspaper gathers its own data, shown on its website as 921 people shot dead by police in 2015.

The Guardian also runs a Twitter account called @thecounted, which gathers similar data.

As this investigation by both the family and the police continues into the holiday break, the details of McMillan’s death and what occurred in the time leading up to it will be released as they come.

Updates will be posted when they are made available.

For now, here’s what we are asking:

-What happened with McMillan in the days leading up to his death?

-What does police camera footage reveal?

-What are the results of the autopsy?

-What do police reports say? What is the police officer’s name?

Featured Image: Bystanders watch as police block off the road outside of the U Centre apartment complex on Fry St. Sunday morning after a UNT police officer shot and killed Ryan McMillian. Tyler Cleveland | Special Contributor 

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  1. Ben
    Ben December 14, 19:16

    I do find it ironic that making the neighborhood safer was one of the reasons for demolishing Fry Street and rebuilding it, and now we have our first police shooting in the new Fry Street era. Thank god for gentrification huh.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Al
    Al December 31, 18:14

    Man that’s crazy a guy attacking cars with an axe, advances toward an officer and is shot. Do we need to remind cops thier job is to run, or at least be sliced a few times, maybe wait until he kills somebody to use lethal force. Seriously it was just a confused crazy person with an axe obviously our officers need more training!

    Reply to this comment

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