ODESSA, Tx. – Police in Odessa, Texas are refusing to publicize the name of the shooter involved in a deadly rampage on Saturday that took the lives of seven victims and left more than 20 more injured.
Perhaps it will dissuade someone else from doing something similar in the future.
It’s part of a growing trend after these horrific tragedies. Usually the media is begging for all the gory details from police, ripping apart social media profiles and digging up dirt on the killer.
But this time it’s different.
Odessa Police Chief Michael Gerke said on Sunday that he wasn’t going to release the name of the suspect who ruthlessly gunned down everyone in his path, including firing at a child that wasn’t even 2-years-old.
“I’m not going to give him any notoriety for what he did,” Gerke said.
That unfortunately didn’t stop the name from leaking out later that day, but Gerke stands with a number of police officials that refused to give killers what they wanted — their 15 minutes in the spotlight.
“Very sincerely I say to those families I offer my apologies and my condolences,” Gerke said during the press conference.
It’s been part of a shift that we’ve seen with recent tragedies. We saw it after the Virginia Beach massacre that left 12 dead when police said they would only name the suspect one time,“and then he will be forever referred to as ‘the suspect.’”
— CBS News (@CBSNews) September 1, 2019
The prime minister of New Zealand refused to call the mosque shooter anything other than the perpetrator.
And it’s what we should be doing — focusing on the victims… not the shooter. Although it’s easy to get caught up in the gruesome details, someone reading a manifesto that gets published online might be the one obsessing over the attack, potentially planning their own for the future.
A study performed at Arizona State University found that killers often based their plans on past attacks.
“What our research found was that 20-30% of such incidents appear to have been inspired by a previous incident,” researcher Sherry Towers said.
Officials report that the shooting began after DPS troopers attempted to pull a vehicle over on I-20 just after 3 p.m. on Saturday. They had tried to stop the man for failing to use his turn signal, but things quickly turned violent.
The DPS troopers said that the man produced a rifle and began firing at the vehicle, striking one of the officers as well as nearby civilians. He then took off and led police on a chase that lasted for more than 10 miles as he continuously opened fire on random civilians.
It seems as though anyone in his way became a target.
These pictures from CNN show bullet holes in vehicles following two active shooter situations in Odessa and Midland, Texas pic.twitter.com/FnTSRDnojd
— Lindsey Mastis (@LindseyMastis) August 31, 2019
The Odessa Police Department said that the gunman shot at civilians on East Loop 338 and I-20 before hijacking a U.S. Postal Service vehicle, killing the postal worker and using the new ride to continue his shooting spree. The gunman continually fired directly from the vehicle as he drove through the West Texas streets.
Officials say the suspect drove through Odessa and Midland, targeting anyone in sight. Eventually the suspect pulled into a movie theater, where his reign of terror ended.
Before police were able to successfully take out the shooter and end his rampage, a Midland officer and Odessa officer took fire and were injured.
Terrifying audio caught from the officers’ radio traffic show the moments that officers were struck by rounds from the gunman’s rifle.
VIDEO: "I'm hit, I'm hit! Shots fired, shots fired!" Dispatch audio captures gun battle between police and Odessa/Midland shooter pic.twitter.com/95aGYek7Ub
— Matthew Keys (@MatthewKeysLive) September 1, 2019
Initial estimates put the death toll at five, with more than 20 injured, but after a difficult night in the hospital, officials say that seven victims plus the gunman are dead and 19 more are wounded. CBS 7 News reported that the City of Odessa claimed that five victims died in Odessa while three others died in Midland. One passed away at the Midland Memorial Hospital on Sunday morning.
The three police officers that were injured during the attack have been reported to be in stable condition. The Midland officer was identified as Zack Owens.
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BREAKING: Eyewitness video shows police surrounding mailvan in Odessa TX. Zack Lindsey, who was 30yrds away, says “the shooter had been speeding towards us shooting out of the window at the police. He then ran into another vehicle, & got rushed by police when his vehicle stopped” pic.twitter.com/ILzsbFgaTw
— David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) September 1, 2019
One person has been treated and released.
Although the shooter has not yet been identified, police confirmed that he was a white male in his 30’s.
The acting homeland security secretary called the attack “very concerning” as well as a “homeland security threat.”
Prayers for Odessa/Midland. This is so crazy, I’ve always felt so safe here. pic.twitter.com/x3ZDGCjeS3
— Margie Galindo (@Margiee97) August 31, 2019
They say that they will be “following up aggressively” on the shooting but did not yet want to jump to any conclusions about the motive.
“They are absolutely a homeland security threat,” Kevin McAleenan said.
Law Enforcement Today is following the investigation and will continue to bring you up to date information as it is released to the public.
Vice President Mike Pence weighed in that the administration ‘remain absolutely determined’ to work with leaders in both parties in Congress to take such steps ‘so we can address and confront this scourge of mass atrocities in our country.’
Pence said Trump is ‘fully engaged’ and closely monitoring the investigation, and added, ‘Our hearts go out to all the victims, the families and loved ones.’
He also expressed gratitude to law enforcement ‘for their swift, courageous response.’
Within minutes of the attack, a GoFundMe campaign was launched for a 17-month-old child from someone who says that they “know the family”. The campaign raised more than $56,000 in an hour.
— Michael Barthel (@RealMiBaWi) September 1, 2019
In that campaign, the author posts:
From the mother of Anderson:
We are on a very long drive to Lubbock. Anderson is a live and that is a prayer answered bigger than I’ve ever had to pray. Her vitals are good. She is being flown to Lubbock while we drive. Not getting to fly with her is beyond painful. Anderson is 17 months old, has shrapnel in her right chest, which thank God is superficial. She has a hole through her bottom lip and tongue and her front teeth were knocked out. She is alive. When others today are not alive. I ask you to continue praying for our hearts as we experience this, pray for complete healing of Anderson, pray for every other family in our same situation, or worse, today and pray for the shooters. Pray that whatever is causing them to do this will be defeated by God and they will stop shooting. The last we heard there are three shooters, over 20 shot, 4 or more dead.
i am not the baby’s mom, but I know the family!
Please help me by raising money for this sweet sweet baby girl who is so little and doesn’t realize what is happening. They will have a lot of expensive they are going to have to pay for.
Nobody has confirmed the authenticity of the campaign, and it’s worth noting that after tragedies we often see fake campaigns pop up to prey on emotions of generous people.