Family, friends shocked after Austin native is shot, killed by police in Minnetonka

Published 11:29am Friday, October 25, 2013

‘We just don’t understand how this could’ve happened’

He was an athlete and friends with many in Austin, and people are baffled how Michael Regner Tray could’ve been shot and killed by police officers on Wednesday night.

Tray, 27, of Austin, was shot by police in an underground garage of a Minnetonka apartment complex. Friends and family are confused and say Tray, “wasn’t that guy,” as he didn’t have any violent criminal convictions. Yet they admit, they weren’t at the scene, either.

The Hennepin County medical examiner’s office said Tray died at the scene of multiple gunshot wounds. Police were called to the apartments after a resident said a man who didn’t live there had a cocked revolver. Police confronted Tray in the garage, where he was shot and killed.

Tray recently graduated from St. Cloud State University. He loved his mom.

“When he graduated from college, he wrote his mom’s name with tape on top of his cap, so that she could find him out in the crowd,” said Jim Greer, Tray’s stepfather.

“We’re in shock,” Greer added. “We just don’t understand how this could’ve happened.”

Phone calls and online posts about Tray’s death circulated late Wednesday night and early Thursday morning. Tray played football and basketball and graduated from Austin High School in 2004. Others echoed the same sentiments about him. They just don’t understand how this could happen.

“This is a guy who visited you at school one day and brought in a pot roast,” said AHS head basketball coach Kris Fadness.

Fadness coached Tray in both basketball and football. Sports aside, Fadness and Tray were simply good friends.

“To me, Mike was a generous, compassionate human being,” Fadness said. “This one throws me for a loop a little bit.”

Tray had been dealing with his father’s death in the past year and was handling the estate in Ottumwa, Iowa, where he found an antique .44 Magnum revolver. Greer suspects Tray brought the gun with him when he visited his girlfriend in Minnetonka so it wouldn’t be stolen, as there had been burglaries in the area. He said Tray was the type of guy who would’ve been handling the gun to see its inner workings, but it wouldn’t have been loaded, Greer believes. He wishes Tray would’ve left the gun in the car.

Greer said Tray’s girlfriend told him that she was on the phone with Tray when she heard screaming, and the line went dead.

“I just don’t want people to think that this guy was some pistol-toting thug,” Greer said, distraught, trying to hold back emotions. “It’s just unfortunate that he decided … I wished he would have put it in the trunk.”

Longtime friend John Duren was among the circulating phone calls on Thursday morning. The news was shocking for him, as well. He and Tray had been friends since third grade.

“I know him, and he wasn’t ‘that guy,’” Duren said. “I was shocked to hear that he even had a gun with him. I’m curious to find out more. It doesn’t make sense, and it doesn’t add up.”

Duren discussed some of his memories about Mike. They visited just a couple months ago.

“Mike was one of my best friends for a long time, ever since third grade,” Duren said. “The last time I saw him, we went out to eat and shot some baskets, stuff we did in high school. Every time you saw Mike — no matter how long it had been since you saw him — he was the type of guy who when you saw him, nothing had changed.”

Names of the Minnetonka police officers who were involved in the shooting will be released early next week. This was the first officer-involved fatal shooting in the Minnetonka department’s history, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Greer hopes the investigation will give his family answers about what happened moments before the gunshots that killed his stepson.

“It’s just devastating,” he said. “This is a kid that did not deserve this. Somebody needs to explain exactly what the hell happened.”

Further details about the investigation have yet to be released.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10 a.m., Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013, at St. Augustine Catholic Church in Austin with Father Jim Steffes officiating. Friends may call from 4 to 7 p.m. Monday at Worlein Funeral Home and at the church one hour prior to the service. Interment is at Calvary Cemetery in Austin. Condolences may be expressed to the family online at www.worlein.com.

—The Associated Press and the Minneapolis Star Tribune contributed to this report.


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