Here's how the AP story of the Charleston shooting starts: "An intense manhunt was underway Thursday for a young white man", saving us a lot of the usual detective work we have to go through on AP reports of crime.
White man sought in killing of 9 people in black church
By ALEX SANZ and RUSS BYNUM
Images on a flier provided to media, Thursday, June 18, 2015, by the Charleston Police Department...
CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — An intense manhunt was underway Thursday for a young white man who joined a prayer meeting and then opened fire inside a historic black church in downtown Charleston, killing nine people, including the pastor. Authorities called it a hate crime.
Police released surveillance video photographs of the gunman and a dark colored sedan he may have used to get away.
"This is a very dangerous individual," Police Chief Greg Mullen said. "We want to identify this individual and arrest him before he hurts anyone else."
The suspect stayed for nearly an hour at the prayer meeting Wednesday night before shooting the victims — six females and three males, Mullen said.
The Emanuel AME Church's pastor, state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, was among those killed, State House Minority leader Todd Rutherford told The Associated Press.
Pinckney, 41, was a married father of two who was elected to the state House at 23, making him the youngest member of the House at the time.
"He never had anything bad to say about anybody, even when I thought he should," Rutherford, D-Columbia, said. "He was always out doing work either for his parishioners or his constituents. He touched everybody."
This shooting "should be a warning to us all that we do have a problem in our society," said Rep. Wendell Gilliard, D-Charleston, whose district includes the church. "We need action. There's a race problem in our country. There's a gun problem in our country. We need to act on them quickly."
Mullen said names would be released once families have been notified.
The suspect was described as a white man in his early 20s.
Mullen called it a hate crime; a Justice Department spokesman said federal officials were opening a hate crime investigation. The spokesman spoke on condition of anonymity because the federal investigation had not been officially announced.[More]
Here's another typical report:
What We Know About the Charleston Shooting
A white man opened fire Wednesday evening inside the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, killing nine.
Let me remind you that it's the AP stylebook
, used by many, many, non-AP outlets as well, that mandates
“We must be especially scrupulous about avoiding irrelevant references in stories about criminal charges or other matters in which identifying a person's race or national origin may unfairly associate an entire group with criminal or antisocial activity.”
This means, as I put in a 2007 column
, that "a story about the the “first black”
to do something good is relevant. The thousandth black to commit an armed robbery
Now, I can't offhand think of any mass shootings where the victims have all been black, and the shooter white. I'll research it. But I do know that there's a phenomenon I called the "Disgruntled Minority Massacre", in which a minority employee of a business kills many of his co-workers—I did a column that said 116 People, Mostly Whites, Have Been Killed By 18 Black “Disgruntled Employees” In The Last 40 Years.
That's the kind of incident where you generally have to read between the lines to find out that the shooter was black. However, there was once incident, of about the same magnitude as this one, where the shooter's race was clear. That was Omar Thornton, in Connecticut, who was fired for stealing from his employer, a beer distributor, and murdered eight white men in retaliation, afterwards committing suicide. He claimed racism, and police investigated his victims posthumously for racism.[No proof of racism at site of 2010 shooting rampage: police, by Zach Howard,Reuters, May 13, 2011.]
Another thing that's unlikely to happen in a case like this.