Shooting strikes close to home for Munnerlyn

Captain Munnerlyn knows all too well about gang violence. The Linval Joseph shooting brought up somber memories of Munnerlyn’s childhood.

Linval Joseph’s injury after being shot in the 400 Soundbar in Minneapolis early Saturday morning hit especially close to home for new teammate Captain Munnerlyn.

Munnerlyn and Joseph were the top two free-agent acquisitions for the Minnesota Vikings in March, but Joseph being shot in the calf hours after the team’s 10-6 win over the Oakland Raiders was far too similar to a situation Munnerlyn experienced early in his life.

Munnerlyn’s father was murdered in a nightclub in Mobile, Ala., when Captain was 6 years old.

“I’ve seen a lot growing up in Mobile and my dad’s situation. My dad, he died in the club. It’s like the same incident. It’s just crazy,” Munnerlyn said Sunday, about 36 hours after Joseph was suffered a minor injury after being an innocent bystander, according to the Vikings. “I thought about that and everything when it went down with Linval. I was like, man, my dad passed away in a club when somebody shot up in the club. It killed him. It’s just something you don’t want to experience. I didn’t want to experience that and I don’t want to have to go through that anymore in my life, so I try to stay away from those situations.”

According to a Vikings source, the 400 Soundbar is known for its gang violence and Munnerlyn has seen plenty of that from his days growing up in Mobile. Munnerlyn said his dad was an innocent bystander in that incident, too. About a year later, Munnerlyn’s brother Gregory was convicted of murder when he avenged being robbed.

Although Joseph wasn’t the target of what Minneapolis police said was a gang-related shooting, Munnerlyn knows how lucky Joseph was to only suffer what the team has termed a minor injury.

“We talked about it and everything. He just said it’s a blessing he’s still here. He’s just blessed to be here and just blessed to be able to walk around and still be able to play football,” Munnerlyn said. “It could have easily hit him in a bone and it didn’t. It went clean through. It really changed his outlook on life. I’m just thankful that he’s still here.

“It definitely brought memories. It’s a blessing that that’s the only thing that happened to him, just his calf. I looked up the report and seen a couple people might have gotten killed (two of the nine people shot suffered serious injuries but are expected to survive). It’s crazy. You can’t put yourself in those situations, but I know Linval went there not thinking anything was going to happen at a bar. He went out after a game. He didn’t think anything was going to happen. It was a crazy situation. I’m glad my teammate is OK and I just can’t wait until he gets back out on the field with me.”

Joseph was treated at a Twin Cities hospital and released. He rejoined his teammates on Sunday and attended team meetings. Head coach Mike Zimmer said Joseph is expected to be ready to play in the regular season opener Sept. 7.

Growing up in the Happy Hills projects in Mobile, Munnerlyn has seen plenty of gang violence and shootings.

“I’ve been in a situation where they did it outside a club or outside a bar. I’ve never been in a situation where it’s been inside. That’s crazy to me,” he said. “How did this guy get in there with a firearm? That’s the thing with me, but, like I said, at the end of the day, I’m just glad my teammate is OK.”

That was sentiment throughout the team Sunday as players returned to work. Zimmer’s reaction when he first heard the news of Joseph being shot?

“‘Oh, my God. And thank God he’s OK,’” Zimmer said. “He’s a terrific young man. He’s a good, good kid and we have a lot of good kids on this football team. (General manager Rick Spielman) has done a really good job of bringing high-quality, high-character players in here, which is one of the things I talk to them about all the time. We want to represent the fans and the state of Minnesota and the Twin Cities as people that want to be known as Vikings and good guys. … This was an unfortunate incident that happened.”

Munnerlyn said his family took a turn for the better after Gregory’s murder conviction when his mother turned to her faith and became a pastor. Growing up without father after age 6, Munnerlyn now he keeps his kids in mind and limits his exposure to nightclubs.

“If I do (go to nightclubs), it would be every once in a while. I try to stay out of those situations and not even go there,” he said. “If anything, I’d rather go home and chill and have a couple of teammates over – somewhere I know it’s safe, go to one of their houses. That’s something I like to do; I really try to stay out of the clubs.”

Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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