As journalists it is our job to answer the most fundamental five W’s and H — who, what, when, where, why and how — of each story. Usually, but not always, those questions have clear-cut answers. Other times they are murky.
Recently, this newspaper has been questioned on social media about why we identified three people involved in the Labor Day shooting at East Frankfort Park as previous or current Kentucky State University students (“Labor Day shooting victim, alleged shooter and park renter all current or former KSU students, records confirm,” Nov. 14).
We published the story because it answers two basic “why” questions about a high-profile tragedy. Why was K-State’s address on the permit to rent the park facility? And, why were three young men from across the country — Justin Cromer, the alleged shooter, is from East Saint Louis, Illinois; Anthony Hendrix Jr., the victim, was from Cincinnati; and Diego Lewis, who rented the pavilion, is from Pompano Beach, Florida — in a Frankfort park on Sept. 2 and part of an incident that sent Frankfort into panic mode for a few hours that holiday evening?
The facts that the university’s address was on the pavilion permit and that all three were at some point KSU students is the reason they were brought together. It is an identifying factor. Had it been a church group or Boy Scouts event, we would have described the gathering and individuals as such.
The university did itself no favors by horribly managing public communications in the aftermath of the shooting. First, it sent a cryptic email urging students to take precautions on campus but offering no explanation for why they should. Then the administration repeatedly stonewalled our reporter who sought basic information about the current or former students involved. Our pursuit ultimately required intervention by the Attorney General's Office to remind KSU of its obligations to be transparent with citizens.
Instead of a one-day story in which the university acknowledged and apologized for the involvement of current and former students and mourned the death of a former student, the university broke state law to keep secret very relevant facts, all while the broader Frankfort community remained clueless about the nature of the Labor Day gathering that turned violent.
The very day after the incident in the park, a 24-year-old Frankfort man was shot and killed in a downtown parking garage. We reported that he was a 2014 graduate of Western Hills High School. Yet, no one was up in arms about that identifying information.
The park shooting was an isolated incident, but, contrary to what critics claim, our reporting on it has nothing to do with race, which was never brought up in the article. We identified the KSU students because of their connection to the university, not the color of their skin.