Police in Odessa, Texas, said they would not be publicly releasing the name of the man who opened fire in a multi-site shooting rampage that left seven people dead, saying they did not want to give the now-deceased man any “notoriety.”
On Saturday, a gunman opened fire in several locations across Odessa and neighboring Midland, ending when police killed the man during a shootout outside of a movie theater complex. As ABC News reported, the shooting started after the suspect was pulled over by police for a minor traffic violation and launched into a shooting rampage, driving his vehicle and firing randomly at victims in as many as 13 different locations.
Two officers were wounded during the shooting, along with a 17-month-old child, police said.
Police had initially described the suspect as a white man in his 30s, noting that they had confirmed the man’s identity after his death. But they said they would not be releasing his name to the public at this time, saying they were not going to give him any notoriety for the shooting.
They did reveal some more details about the suspect, however, including that he was believed to have had a criminal record. As The Daily Wire reporter Ryan Saavedra wrote on Twitter, that would have likely meant that the suspect could not have legally owned a firearm.
— CBS News (@CBSNews) September 1, 2019
The decision not to release the name of the Odessa shooting suspect was met with some resistance by members of the media, who saw it as an obligation to give members of the public all available information about the shooting. Others had questioned whether Odessa police would have withheld the suspect’s identity had it not been a white man who committed the act.
Rather strange of the Odessa police chief to not name a deceased suspect. Meaning that the identification will be subject to rumor and speculation and may just come out if the family releases a statement or someone in his department leaks it. https://t.co/kjgTQ581bo
— Aaron Booth (@ActorAaronBooth) September 1, 2019
Weird presser on Odessa Shooting.
Police say they've positively identified the suspect, who was killed in gunfire, but won't release his name because they don't want him to gain notoriety.
— Tess Owen (@misstessowen) September 1, 2019
Is it me or were the Odessa police acting abnormal for the aftermath of a shooting.
— Neera Tanden (@neeratanden) September 1, 2019
Many have called on the media not to report the identity of mass shooting suspects, arguing that it gives them notoriety and can fuel future mass shootings. There is even a movement called Don’t Name Them that calls on journalists not to sensationalize mass shootings and not give undue focus on the perpetrators. The movement is a joint effort from the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center at Texas State University, the I Love U Guys Foundation, and the FBI.
The suspect shot "at innocent civilians all over Odessa," according to a statement from Odessa, Texas, police, which did not name the man nor offer motive. https://t.co/EMhqb5tpmU
— Stars and Stripes (@starsandstripes) September 1, 2019
Odessa police did say that the shooting suspect would be identified at some later point, though they would not be releasing the name in a public setting. It was not clear when they planned to release the identity of the suspect, however.