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More Police Refusing to Name Mass Shooters for Fear of Copycats

October 05, 2015  | 

The sheriff detailed how a shooter armed with several guns walked into a Thursday morning writing class at a rural Oregon community college and killed nine people. He described how investigators found still more weapons at the man's home, reports the Associated Press.

But when it came time to reveal the shooter's name, Sheriff John Hanlin adamantly refused, saying, "I will not give him the credit he probably sought prior to this horrific and cowardly act."

Like Hanlin, law enforcement officials are recently refusing to name mass shooters, hoping that not immediately identifying them will reduce the chance of their notoriety and keep their actions from inspiring others.

There's little research to suggest the practice prevents copycats. And criminologists and ethicists worry that withholding names will make it harder to assess a mass killer's motivations and spot trends that could help prevent future violence.

Families of mass shooting victims have long urged journalists to avoid using the gunmen's names and photos in public, saying the sight of them renews their pain and turns troubled murderers into celebrities.

Comments (1)

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BT @ 10/8/2015 2:47 PM

They should start redacting names of shooters on all reports like many agencies across the nation do already for certain reports, so no notoriety goes to them. They should also redact victims names and addresses so the families can mourn/bury their loved ones without TV cameras everywhere. Maybe even redact some of the details of how individual victims where killed and what type of gun(s) were used etc. Just the victim(s) being shot is all anyone needs to know. If every potential copycat doesn't know this information it's hard to try and copycat (or "1 up" ) a previous shooting incident.

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