The police chief investigating Thursday’s deadly shooting at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland, refused to use the suspect’s name on Friday, telling reporters that person “doesn’t deserve” attention.
“I will not say his name today,” Anne Arundel County police chief Timothy Altomare declared during a morning news conference. “I refuse to do it. I wish you wouldn’t do it, but I know better. He doesn’t deserve us to talk about him one more second.”
Instead, Altomare called the accused killer “the bad guy” or “this fellow.”
Anne Arundel police chief refuses to say the suspected newsroom shooter's name: "I will not say his name today. I refuse to do it. I wish you wouldn't do it. But I know better. He doesn't deserve us to talk about him one more second." pic.twitter.com/MYDmAKdtVO
— Brian Ries (@moneyries) June 29, 2018
Many news outlets have focused on the victims of the shooting ― four journalists and a sales assistant at The Capital ― as well as the shooter’s history of threats against the paper, within the larger context of vitriol against the free press in the United States.
No notoriety: @CNN's front is intensely, intimately focused on the victims of the shooting. Their names. Their faces. Not an image of the perpetrator in sight, and his name is nowhere on home page. https://t.co/Z86eZ6807T pic.twitter.com/hHYU1UjSi0
— Lois Beckett (@loisbeckett) June 29, 2018
In response to the spate of mass shootings in recent years, other police chiefs have also chosen not to use suspects’ names or to mention them only minimally.
Some researchers and law enforcement officials who have studied the possible links between incessant news coverage and “copycat” shootings have launched campaigns to encourage reporters not to “sensationalize” the killers.
“It is journalistically routine to name the killer. It’s public record. And it is important to use their names and likenesses to apprehend them and bring them to justice,” the group Don’t Name Them at Texas State University wrote. “But once they are captured, it’s really no longer a part of the story, other than to create a call to action for a like-minded killer to take his plans and thoughts and make them into deeds.”
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