Three main things jump out at me in relation to the mass shooting at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland this week:
There were warnings —
Lack of security —
I was once a reporter myself (a target?) —
I’ll address the last first: Since I worked as a reporter for many years I might well have been a potential target by some disgruntled reader or nutcase, although I doubt more so than now since I am a truck driver and when you consider road rage…
But if you drive your own car you are just as likely to face the same level of threat. I really think this society has become so much meaner since I was a child (many decades ago now).
But as is frustratingly so in so many mass shootings there were warnings. The shooter made several online threats. From what I have read, the newspaper officials and the authorities seemed to take the general attitude that if they ignored this nutcase (the shooter) he would go away. He didn’t.
They even received a warning from the shooter the day of. Employees of the newspaper were advised to call 911 if they spotted him. Really? That of course would be (was) too late.
Now I guess this was (is) a relatively small newspaper even though it is in the capital city of Maryland. But apparently it had zero security. I mean they already knew the guy by sight and he walks in with a shotgun.
The lesson: in this day and age if someone makes a threat, best to take it seriously and overreact.
In my years in journalism (about 15 or so) I don’t recall receiving any threat of injury or death. I was concerned at times though. Once I was sent out to make a photo of a traffic stop. A traffic stop? Yes. I think in the small community where I was working the local cops did not get much action and were all excited about what they considered a felony stop out on the freeway. I got out there and made some photos. One of the suspects (and I don’t recall I ever found what he was a “suspect” of) demanded to see my identification. One of the cops went along with that demand and told me to show the suspect. Thanks a lot. I’m don’t recall that we even ran that photo. I think the whole thing turned out to be nothing. But it bothered me that one of the supposed desperadoes saw my driver’s license.
I worried more for my own father’s safety. He was in the newspaper business for nearly half a century, working in the big and small time. As a teenager I recall a couple of times (just a couple) he received a phone call at night from disgruntled readers.
And that makes me think of the victims in this latest mass shooting:
Five dead. Four of them were near or at retirement age and one was young. Several more were gravely wounded. Lives snuffed out or forever impaired and families devastated.
This was not one of those clear cases for the need of gun control. The weapon used was as far as I know a perfectly legal shotgun.
This could be just called a random act of violence. But when you put it together with all of the others that have rained down on us over the past several years it is a sign of an increasingly troubled and downright sick society. It’s the other guy I know. But something is wrong.
My nagging fear in all of this is that we are forced to accept these incidents as every-day reality.
The story is that the shooter was mad about an article in the newspaper a few years ago about his legal troubles involving harassment he allegedly committed against a former female fellow student in high school.
He was unsuccessful in suing the newspaper for defamation.
As an LA Times story put it:
… the judge said, the paper had nailed the story: “There is nothing in those complaints that prove that anything that was published about you is, in fact, false.”