Skip to main content
You are the owner of this article.
You have permission to edit this article.
Long says on night he killed Lincoln man, 'I panicked. I just started shooting'
editor's pick alert

Long says on night he killed Lincoln man, 'I panicked. I just started shooting'

From the What you missed this week in notable Southeast Nebraska crimes and court cases series
  • Updated
  • 0
Ryan Long trial, 10.6

Ryan Long testifies in his own defense during his trial for the murder of Michael Whitemagpie last week. He was found guilty of manslaughter Tuesday.

Zoomed-in, black-and-white video showed the men headed toward each other in the alley near 33rd and T streets and how quickly it happened.

How one second early May 23, 2020, Michael Whitemagpie was walking toward Ryan Long. And how the next, Long was reaching to his waistband for his gun and firing. 

Whitemagpie dropped quickly to the gravel. But Long kept firing, emptying the gun of all 16 rounds. 

"It was loud," Long said. "I panicked. I just started shooting." 

Jurors see video, hear from eyewitnesses to deadly Lincoln alley shooting

He said he feared Whitemagpie would seriously hurt or kill him and only stopped when he ran out of bullets. 

"Have you ever had to defend yourself with a firearm before?" his attorney, Michael Wilson, asked him. 

"No," Long said.

On the stand Wednesday and Thursday, Long said he'd brought the gun to the meeting to protect himself from Whitemagpie, who he said had shoved him over a table during a dice game in a Lincoln hotel room about an hour earlier, then punched him two times in the parking lot outside and shoved him down before they went their separate ways.

Lincoln man's murder trial begins for fatal shooting in alley

It was Long who reached out, trying to meet with Whitemagpie after, to try to smooth things over, he said. Long said he didn't know what Whitemagpie's problem with him was. They ran in the same circles, and he didn't want problems to keep coming up.

In the alley, Long said he got suspicious and put the gun on his lap for Colby McCray, a mutual friend, to see when he walked up to the car. McCray tried to assure him they weren't there for any funny business. They were there to "squash it."

McCray walked back to his Tahoe where Whitemagpie was waiting and told him to cool it because Long had a gun. And Whitemagpie started walking toward Long, who had gotten out to follow McCray.

Long said that's when he saw Whitemagpie for the first time, despite his headlights pointing in his direction as he parked. Long said Whitemagpie said "Sup, (N-word)," in an aggressive tone. 

WATCH NOW: Lincoln investigators are headed to Florida following 30-year-old's arrest there in homicide

"As he was saying it, he was kind of reaching toward his waistband," Long said. 

He didn't see a gun or know for sure if he had one. None was found at the scene. 

Long said he went a little closer to see him better and see what his intentions were. He said Whitemagpie was scowling, the way he had been before he assaulted him earlier that night. 

And, he said, he knew that Whitemagpie could be violent when he was drinking. 

Lincoln man arrested in Florida in connection to 31-year-old's weekend slaying

"At some point, you make the decision to use the firearm?" Wilson asked.

"Yeah," Long said.

On cross examination, Deputy Lancaster County Attorney Charles Byrd replayed the video, showing how before Whitemagpie reached at his waistband to pull his pants up, Long's arm already appeared to have been pulling out the gun, his elbow visibly rising, the rest of him obscured from view by a tree. 

Whitemagpie was still 12 to 15 feet away.

Long said he didn't pull the gun until he got closer. 

He admitted he didn't try to retreat, or go back to the car and drive away even after he thought Whitemagpie meant to hurt him.

WATCH NOW: Police chief calls 31-year-old Lincoln man's killing 'targeted violence'

When he fired, Whitemagpie's hands were at his side, visibly empty.

"Your first reaction to seeing Mr. Whitemagpie is to draw that firearm, isn't it, sir?" Byrd asked.

"Yes," Long said. 

And his first reaction to hearing him was "to pull your gun and empty your magazine into Mr. Whitemagpie, isn't it, sir?" Byrd asked.

Saturday morning homicide victim identified as 31-year-old Lincoln man

"Yes," he answered.

Byrd asked why, if his intention wasn't to kill Whitemagpie, he didn't shoot at his feet or into the air as a warning. 

"Like I said, everything happened so fast," Long said.  

Closing arguments are expected Friday. 

On Twitter @LJSpilger


Sign up for our Crime & Courts newsletter

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Public safety reporter

Lori Pilger is a Norfolk native and University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate who has been a public safety reporter for the Journal Star since 2005.

Related to this story

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.


News Alerts

Breaking News

Husker News