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.

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