On Seeing Stabbings In Missoula As Opportunities, Not Crimes

by Travis Mateer


When I saw this post on Facebook, I immediately hopped on my bike and went to the location where this alleged stabbing took place. Why? Well, I am doing this journalist thing, so that’s one reason, but I am ALSO realizing that maybe I should see stabbings as OPPORTUNITIES instead of crimes. Let me explain.

Earlier in the week, the City Councilors who represent this ward communicated to their colleagues that their constituents are PISSED about the Johnson Street shelter reopening for an entire year. Where the Crisis Mill Levy was originally going to fund the improvements needed to make this seasonal shelter a year-round facility, the Missoula Redevelopment Agency is now being looked at to provide funding for bathrooms.

As I biked around this area, taking pictures, I got a strong sense that the preliminary work to handle the bathroom improvements is already well underway.

In this image, the Johnson Street Shelter is the building visible just above the blue Business Access sign. The stabbing occurred about a block away, near a playground and dog park. As I approached the scene, blocked off by yellow tape, I could see a basketball court where I suspect the stabbing took place.

I’m not looking at this stabbing as an opportunity for me, though I certainly take full advantage to talk to as many people as possible when I’m on location of a scene like this, so maybe it IS an opportunity for me.

For example, when I talk to law enforcement, I’m not expecting them to tell me anything about an active investigation. Instead, I discuss the larger dynamics of what’s happening in our community, and some of the badges I’m talking to about the drug crisis gripping this valley and this nation are able to say they’re familiar and appreciative of my work.

I’m also checking in with local businesses, and the visibility of drug activity, including obvious drug deals, is getting so normalized, there no longer seems to be an expectation that anything is going to be done about it. It’s just the way things seem to be now.

The opportunity I’m thinking about comes from the fact people are so fed up in this particular neighborhood, some are deciding to move. If the reopening of the Johnson Street Shelter drives enough property owners away, prices in this slice of Missoula could suffer. And because of the possibility of depressed prices–in a part of town which will most definitely being seeing LOTS of investment (Midtown)–I smell OPPORTUNITY for developers to make some money!

Getting back to the stabbing, the Missoula Current is reporting one person is in the hospital and one person is in custody. The jail roster has a young man booked for deliberate homicide. Is this the alleged stabber?

I don’t know, but after a stabbing reported just a few days ago, it appears violence with sharp objects is the theme of the week.

We have an opportunity this summer, as a community, to assess what our ACTUAL priorities are when it comes to the drug crisis pretending to be a homeless crisis. Are we going to continue throwing six figures sums at lobbyists and economic development, or are we going to get serious about the drug epidemic and our critical LACK of resources, like treatment options.

A few weeks ago I was biking around Wyoming Street, so I stopped at Recovery Center Missoula. This facility used to have beds for in-patient treatment, but it’s transitioning into some kind of group home, I was told by a client doing some yard work (I couldn’t enter the facility because I was carrying). If true, this is NOT good, but I haven’t seen any media on this yet, so I doubt anyone beyond service providers even knows this might be happening.

I called and left a message, so will try to follow up on this topic at a later date because our community’s capacity to provide treatment options for addicts is a VERY important part of dealing with the drug crisis.

If you appreciate the work I’m doing (and the speed with which I can do it), Travis’ Impact Fund (TIF) is one way to help me out, while using the donation button at my about page is another.

Thanks for reading!


A commenter provided a link to a Facebook page that led to a defunct GoFundMe for Jathan Moreno, here’s some context from the link:

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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5 Responses to On Seeing Stabbings In Missoula As Opportunities, Not Crimes

  1. Concern Troll says:

    What’s this do you think? https://www.facebook.com/praiseTheLord1234

  2. Sounds like Jathan started stabbing the victim on a Mountain Line bus. I can almost guarantee you this kid would NOT have been on the bus if it cost a little money to ride.

  3. The Missoulian article is virtually indistinguishable from the KGVO one, except for this part about Moreno’s representation already positioning to play some kind of victim card:

    “At his court appearance, representation for Moreno said he faced hostility and hazing in the community.”

  4. TC says:

    Someone, “someone” should request a run report for the Johnson Street Center. If one went to the Fire Department and requested such the City has to provide (FOIA and all). Funny that they charge – like $1 a page (even if it has one word on page) and will redact almost anything of meaning. All of it a means of being “transparent (actually hiding behind – will use terms like “privacy”, “public good”, “liability”, etc. One could make a Bingo or drinking game out of all the words used by City to avoid transparency. All the which are bullshit bluffs btw –
    Would not stand up in court).
    Anyway, such a run report would at least give sheer numbers – numbers of calls by FD/EMS; with any luck (and no redaction) would also get numbers of substance calls, ODs, violence etc. If this information was made public I believe the the public would be gobsmacked and the neighborhood would truly be heard. Of course City Council has all this info (in fine detail) but wont disclose because then it would be apparent to all what failures they are. That failure starts with St Engen (this and POV and 10 Year plan were all his direction. Failure would include his appointees and partnerships so Ellie hyphen hyphen, Erin Pehan, Amy hyphen hyphen, SHP, MRA (Ellen), MEP (Grant), et al. would also fall under scrutiny and perhaps regular Missoulians (like Danny Carlino) might question why we give $100s of thousands to these failures.
    Thats the Missoula (liberal?) way though – never admit failure/just blame lack of funding. (Hess and Slotnick are masters of this – learned well upon the lap of St John). Then just ask more money to fail more grandly. And make sure the public is shamed while doing so.
    People want to act shocked over a stabbing at/near Johnson Street. Fact is that was just a Tuesday – and a quiet one at that!

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