This morning, as Jean & I were watching the morning news with Charlie Rose on CBS, the local network affiliate broke in with “Breaking News.”
There had been a shooting in the West University / Houston area, beginning at not quite half past six o’clock AM.
It took place less than a mile from where I once lived on Milton Street with my eldest son Nick.
For the next five hours, all network broadcasts on five networks were suspended in favor of the local affiliate’s coverage of this event.
And for the most of those hours, no local reporters informed the public of facts verified by the officials handling the situation. Instead, we were fed suppositions, theories, what ifs, musings, descriptions of what we could clearly see for ourselves on the screen & interviews of traumatized witnesses anxious for their less than 15 minutes of fame.
In any time, but especially in these times, this was an important story – but it was a story that needed to be reported responsibly & with verified information.
Not observations from a newscaster looking at the screen & explaining what the helicopter above was filming.
Nine people were wounded in this attack. At first it was seven & then six & now the police have confirmed nine. Three have been released from local hospitals.
The stories about the shooter, who was killed, vary from station to station. I am still not sure what this man’s problem was. He was a lawyer. And clearly, at least temporarily, deranged. With no ties to terrorist activities. At least not today.
And he is dead.
He shot at random. As people were leaving to go to the gym, to head in for work, on their way to take their kids to school.
There is a legitimate story in this tragedy. Perhaps several – the stories of the nine victims. The story of how this man decided to take guns to his car & shoot at random individuals.
I heard one local newscaster praise the police for exercising caution before going into the suspect’s apartment, “to make sure they knew what they were dealing with.”
If only newscasters & journalists would do the same.