Rollie Chance was watching on news about the Navy Yard shooting this week when he received a phone call.
It was someone from ABC News, asking if he knew the Rollie Chance who was the “perpetrator of the Washington Navy Yard shootings.” Rollie thought it was a joke, telling the caller he had nothing to do with the shooting and hanging up.
But it was no joke. Within a few minutes the FBI was at his door and reporters on his lawn. Several news outlets, including CBS and NBC, identified Chance as the Navy Yard shooter.
They soon realized the mistake.
“We reported what we learned from law enforcement sources and it was corrected within minutes,” said Sonya McNair, senior vice president of communications for CBS News.
Though the record was quickly cleared and the networks retracted their tweets, for Rollie Chance the damage was done. In an interview on Friday, Chance said the media needs more accountability.
“Verify before you vilify,” Chance said in an interview with his lawyer Mark Cummings.
Chance is one of several innocent people misidentified in the wake of a national tragedy. In a race to find information, news outlets have run with unverified reports in the past. After the shooting in Sandy Hook Elementary School, Ryan Lanza was initially identified as the shooter instead of his brother, Adam Lanza.
Chance, who has never met alleged shooter Aaron Alexis, said it was hurtful to be blamed for such a tragedy. He had a 24-year career in the Navy, serving on amphibious assault ships before retiring from active duty in 2008.
“I would never think about hurting my friends, those guys in Building 197,” he said. “I worked with them for years.”
Chance added that if the roles were reversed and he was the one making the false accusation against someone in the Navy, there would have been consequences.”The media should have a certain amount of accountability,” he said.
Rollie Chance said he is worried of the ramifications the accusation may have in the future, saying his name is still associated with the shooting on the internet.