Texas Authorities Refuse To Say Church Shooter’s Name

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Joshua Gill Religion Reporter
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Texas authorities refused to speak the name of the Sutherland Springs shooter at a press conference, saying they will no longer glorify his name or his crimes.

Authorities simply referred to Devin Kelley, the man responsible for 26 murders at First Baptist Church, as “the shooter” at the Monday briefing, and said they intend to continue to refer to him as such, as using his name would not only glorify the wanton death he caused but may also encourage copycats, according to the Associated Press. The decision to leave out the shooter’s name is part of a broader effort by academics, victims’ families and authorities to cut down on sensationalist approach to covering mass shootings and to prevent any encouragement for admirers of mass shooters.

“We do not want to glorify him and what he has done,” said Texas Department of Public Safety Regional Director Freeman Martin.

“We don’t talk about the shooter,” FBI Special Agent Christopher Combs said in agreement. Combs said they would not give undue attention to the shooter so that it “doesn’t encourage other people to do horrific acts.”

The effort to leave out the names of mass shooters after the initial coverage of their crimes was started by No Notoriety, a meme-based digital campaign dedicated to denying the glorification of mass shooters. Caren and Tom Teves started the group after their son, Alex, died in the 2012 mass shooting in Aurora, Colo. while shielding his girlfriend from gunfire.

Professor Zeynep Tufekci of North Carolina University has advocated against repetitive use of mass killers’ names and faces in news media, saying studies show that would-be mass killers often meticulously follow coverage of those who have committed mass killings, focusing on their names, faces, notoriety they receive, and step-by-step coverage of the methods they used.

“It’s past time that we considered less sensationalist ways of covering mass shootings, and reported such grim news without plastering the killer’s name and face everywhere,” Tufekci told the AP in an email.

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