Two Minneapolis police officers answered a 911 call about a stabbing on East Lake Street on May 27 and found a chaotic scene as arson, looting and protests raged in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
A black man lay on the sidewalk in front of the Cadillac Pawnshop with a gunshot wound to the torso. He was not breathing. A crowd of noisy protesters gathered around, some of them shooting videos with their phones and speculating about what had taken place. While one officer knelt beside the man and performed CPR, the second officer waved off protesters. Soon, more officers arrived as the crowd swelled.
Medical personnel grabbed Calvin “Chuck” Horton Jr., 43, by the arms and legs and loaded him into an ambulance that rushed him to HCMC, where he was declared dead at 9:37 p.m.
Horton’s death was the only fatality during the protests and civil unrest that swept through Minneapolis in the aftermath of the May 25 killing of Floyd by police. Three weeks later, very little is known about what actually took place at the pawnshop and whether anyone will be charged with killing Horton.
John Rieple, 59, the owner of Cadillac Pawn at 1538 E. Lake St., was arrested after he shot Horton, claiming he was a looter, according to a police source on the night of his death.
Rieple, of Galesville, Wis., was later released without charges, however. Authorities say the case remains under investigation.
While the Star Tribune generally does not identify people who have not been charged with a crime, it is doing so with Rieple because his identity as the owner of the pawnshop is widely known and because he has been identified in other media writing about Horton’s killing.
To date, neither police nor county prosecutors have publicly described Horton as a looter, though they acknowledge that it was one of the theories they are investigating.
“Sadly, there was one homicide … where a gentleman was shot and killed outside of a pawnshop,” Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said at a recent news conference. The case, he said, remains under investigation.
Meanwhile, Horton’s family wants answers.
“Based on what we know, we are very disturbed about the circumstances surrounding Mr. Horton’s death,” Oliver Nelson, the family’s attorney, said in a text message on Friday. “We are exhausting every effort to obtain the information to determine exactly why Mr. Horton was shot and killed. The family deserves to know this information for the sake of closure and for the cause of justice.”
Horton, father of seven
Around 100 people attended Horton’s funeral Friday in north Minneapolis. He lived in the Twin Cities, but had no permanent address, according to family members. He was unemployed and received Social Security disability payments, they said.
The Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office has issued a short news release. Horton “died of shotgun wounds of the chest and upper extremities,” it said. “Manner of death is homicide and Minneapolis police are investigating.” The office has declined further comment, citing the investigation.
Horton leaves behind seven children. Five carloads of family and friends drove up Friday from Little Rock, Ark., where he was born and where his mother lives, to attend his funeral at Estes Funeral Chapel in north Minneapolis.
“I am very heartbroken,” Horton’s mother, Mae Roberts, said in an interview. “It’s just devastating.”
She said her son moved to the Twin Cities to live with his father, Calvin Horton Sr.
“He had always been a daddy baby,” his father said. “I raised him from a baby to a man.”
Horton attended North High School, his father said, but did not graduate. He would later earn his GED, and family members said he would “glow” whenever he had the chance help his kids with their homework.
“He put his kids before the world,” said his daughter, Cadaezhah Horton, a student at Inver Hills Community College. “He always talked about his kids, wondering what we were up to.”
She remembers fondly how he drove from Little Rock, where he had been living for three years, to Minneapolis so that he could attend her high school graduation.
“It is very tough, and to lose him the way we did is very hard,” she said. “Looting or not, he shouldn’t die for it.”
Court records show Calvin Horton Jr. had a long history of criminal convictions, including for theft, marijuana possession, second-degree assault and driving after his license had been revoked. He also had a domestic assault conviction.
In February, he pleaded guilty to stealing more than $1,000 in merchandise from Target last November. Judge Luis Bartolomei sentenced him to 17 months in prison, but stayed imprisonment for three years while he served probation.
Horton wasn’t perfect, said Mario Chizelle, a cousin. But he was kind, he was caring, and he helped his friends through some of the worst moments of their lives, Chizelle said.
“He was a loving guy, a peaceful guy,” Chizelle said. “His heart was as big as this church.”
Rieple, meanwhile, has said nothing publicly about the shooting.
When a reporter, identifying himself from the Star Tribune, called Rieple on Thursday at a phone number listed on his pawnshop license, the man who answered hung up. Messages seeking comment were left at Rieple’s home in Galesville, 23 miles north of La Crosse, Wis.
Minnesota Secretary of State records show that Rieple incorporated Lincoln Pawn and Jewelry under the business name of Third Financial Corp. at the current address of Cadillac Pawn shop on East Lake Street in 1990. He renamed it Cadillac Pawn and the Gold Mine in 1997. Minneapolis pawnshop licensing records only go back to 2004 when it was listed as Cadillac Pawn. Rieple describes himself in business records as chief executive.
At one time, he owned a pawnshop and a jewelry store in Winona and, in 2002, a business called Mainstream Firearms and Marine, also in Winona. He also once operated a pawnshop in La Crosse.
He and his brother, Tom Rieple, bought and restored an old fishing pier in 2010 just beneath a lock and dam near La Crosse. John Rieple, who doesn’t regularly work at the pier, was filling in for his brother in 2013 when a houseboat lost power and was sucked through the dam, capsizing and hurling 11 people overboard.
Rieple was in a pontoon boat when he saw the wreckage and helped pull five people out of the water while rescuers from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers were able to save the others.
Tom Rieple said he hasn’t spoken much with his brother since he was arrested.
“He’s up in Minneapolis and I’m down here,” he said.
Any criminal charges against Rieple in Horton’s death will depend on what prosecutors find happened that night at the pawnshop, said Marshall Tanick, a local attorney who was not involved in the case. Under common law, a person has the right to use lethal force if someone breaks into their home, but that isn’t necessarily the case if someone breaks into their store.
Unless the owner or others are in imminent danger of grave bodily harm, they generally have a duty to retreat, though they may use reasonable force to repel an intruder, short of killing the person, Tanick said.
“If the person was looting or caught in the act of looting, [shooting the looter] is not self-defense,” he said.
Staff writers Libor Jany and Ryan Faircloth contributed to this report.
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