North Minneapolis basketball team mourns coach killed in shooting

- It’s been a week since a popular North Minneapolis basketball coach was shot and killed and there’s still no arrest in the case.

Those who knew Coach Monte Whitner are sharing their memories of the late coach.

Whitner was laid to rest Friday, and hundreds of people attended his funeral. Those who coached with him on the North Minneapolis Eagles team say there was much more to Monte Whitner than met the eye.

“I was so shocked,” said Debra Rojas, another coach of the North Minneapolis Basketball program. “I couldn’t believe it.”

Rojas said Whitner was a key part of the team and they don’t quite know how to move on without him.

“Just knowing he’s gone is tragic, but to find out how he died is even more tragic,” Rojas said.

Whitner was found shot to death inside his vehicle last Saturday morning in the 5700 block of 33rd Avenue South in Minneapolis.

“It’s just mindblowing that he’s gone,” Rojas said. “Seeing him in that casket was just like, wow, unreal.”

Pastor Joseph Webb also coaches with the team.

“Because his character, who would want to kill him?” Webb wondered. “I’ve seen him get along with everybody.”

They say Whitner was a devoted coach, father and member of the community, who didn’t let kidney disease keep him from the courts. He explained his approach in a video originally made for an awards dinner that ended up being shown at his funeral.

“My motivation is to give back to the north side, give back to north side, give back to these kids and I’m happy that Coach D and Coach Leo gave me this opportunity,” said Whitner in the video.

Those closest to Whitner are hoping a break in the case comes soon.

“We also pray that these people that have done this to him will be found, because it’s not right to take such a great person that Monte was,” Rojas added.

Rojas says the team is taking a break right now in the aftermath of the death.

If you have any information about this case, call Minneapolis Police at 612-692-TIPS (8477).

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