Westword July 26, 2012 : Page 9

westword.com With the web, we could help shine a light on the tragedy of the Aurora shootings. | CONTENTS | LA TES T W ORD LETTERS Dark Night T hirteen years ago, when word that stu-dents were being held hostage at Colum-bine High School trickled into the Westword office, there was little that a weekly going to press that afternoon could do to cover the unfolding crisis. But early on July 20, when we woke to news of shootings at an Aurora movie theater, we had the web to work with. With Michael Roberts at the helm of the Latest Word, our news blog, we’ve been reporting on the tragedy since 5 a.m. that morning, and will continue to cover the story at westword.com. Here are just a few of the pieces we’ve published: the (mostly bogus) chatter about the Trench Coat Mafia that emerged after Columbine. But these days, the rumor mill touched off by a horror like this is a much more acceler-ated — and treacherous — phenomenon. Back in 1999, people still turned to some-thing called “television” for much of their information. And Columbine was a made-for-TV event, a crisis that quickly turned into a siege thanks to slow-moving (and since abandoned) police response tactics, and unfolded over a period of hours leading into prime time. In addition, the well-stocked staffs of two — yes, two — daily newspapers descended on the school, as well as reporters from around the world. The story that emerged over the next few weeks about what happened at Col-umbine was, for the most part, subject to the traditional gatekeeping and we-know-what’s-best-for-you filtering of the main-stream media. That doesn’t mean they got it right. In fact, much of the lurid reporting about Goths and the supposed influence of Marilyn Manson was shoddy and goofy. Some reporters didn’t know how to access shooter Eric Harris’s AOL profile, or how to distinguish authentic online work by Harris and co-killer Dylan Klebold from imitations and forgeries, including a bogus suicide note that is still cited by duped Columbine researchers to this day. A true picture of the shooters and the why and how of the Columbine massacre unfolded over months and years, as amore witnesses came forward and key documents in the official investigation were made pub-lic. That may also be the case in the Aurora shootings. But we’re an impatient bunch, far more accustomed to instant answers than we were even a decade ago — and far more willing, in the absence of hard information, to settle for gibberish. A shooting at a midnight movie plays hell with the news cycle — too late for the print edition of our surviving daily, too early for the local blogosphere. A police press confer-ence scheduled for later this morning could shed some more light, but in the meantime what’s trending online are the bare details of what’s known, notably the arrest of suspect James Holmes, and a great deal of what is not known and could be quite wrong. The answers to anything, as everybody knows by now, are to be found on Facebook. | ¡ASK SAM LEVIN A Mourners at the Aurora vigil. MEXICAN! Aurora is finally a household name...for the wrong reason: The City of Aurora and its booster group, Visit Aurora, have been work-ing hard to advance the city’s profile, pushing the upstart suburb just east of Denver out from under the shadow of its older, bigger sibling and making it a household name across the country. Today it is. But this is not what Aurora envisioned. The shootings at a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises took place at the Century 16, a theater complex in the Aurora Town Center, the slick development that replaced the decrepit Aurora Mall. In many ways, the Aurora Town Center really is the center of the sprawling city. And now it’s at the center of the country’s attention, as everyone looks for an explana-tion of what propelled the shooter identified as James Holmes to commit this horrifying crime. Most of the headlines name-check Aurora as the site of the massacre, rather than tying it to a Denver suburb. “Aurora ‘Dark Knight Rises’ shootings have eerie overtones,’ in the Los Angeles Times . “12 shot dead at ‘Dark Knight Rises screening in Aurora, Colorado,” on MSNBC. Aurora has finally made its name. But this is not what it wanted — or what it deserves. — Patricia Calhoun , 7:25 a.m. July 20 James Holmes rumor mill after Aurora shoot-ings: More viral than Columbine: In the aftershocks of the shootings at an Aurora theater that left twelve dead and dozens wounded, it’s inevitable that the tragedy would evoke comparisons to the 1999 attack on Columbine High School. Certainly, the instant online speculation about the shooter and his motives is eerily reminiscent of all Pity every James Holmes in the vicinity of Aurora (or Tennessee, since Holmes’s car had Tennessee plates) with a Facebook page; they’re now being “outed” as possibly “the guy” by amateur sleuths everywhere. “Were I guessing, I’d say this IS NOT the page, but nothing else on Facebook that seems to fit well,” reports one ace detective on Right Wing News . “All the guy is going to have to do to show it isn’t him is update.” Elsewhere, the rumor mill is being rapidly stoked with vaguely sourced data concerning Holmes’s background and motives. On the aptly named site Hot Air, a commenter posts something he says comes from YouTube but references something that allegedly first ap-peared on the inane social media site 9gag: A few weeks ago, a man by the username of ‘JamesHolmes154Ð posted a thread on 9gag saying he was going to ‘shoot up’ a theater. He was clearly distressed and ad-mitted he was suffering from PTSD. He said he was going to walk in and try to take as much lifes as possible. The whole 9gag community egged him on and give him tips on what to wear, etc. They give him tips on sharp-shooting and sent him messages on how to take as much lifes as possible. 9gag is a sick site and needs to be destroyed. A gratuitous blast at 9gag, or the real deal? Set your search engines for James-Holmes154, and get ready for the coming of the apocrypha. — Alan Prendergast , 9:43 a.m. July 20 James Holmes did not drink at the Zephyr Lounge, says Myron Melnick: James Holmes did not drink here. Earlier today, a media outlet interviewed a gentleman described as a bouncer at a bar that the accused Aurora Theater killer supposedly frequented. Melvin Evans is the man who claimed to have been working at the Zephyr Lounge a few Sundays ago when Holmes came in to listen to karaoke. “He was laid-back, kept to himself, never really talked to anybody,” Evans, wearing mirrored sunglasses, told a reporter. “The conversations we did have were very short. I mean, he was somebody that you wouldn’t even look at twice walking down the street. Very, very mellow.” “Melvin is full of it,” says Myron Melnick, who took the Zephyr over from his father, Barry, nearly a decade ago. “Melvin worked here four years ago.” That’s when he worked the door, anyway. According to Melnick, Evans came back two years ago and worked the parking lot from midnight to 3 a.m. for eight weeks. So no way could he have seen Holmes, who moved to Aurora last year, at the Zephyr. For that matter, “None of my bartend-ers have ever seen the guy,” Melnick says. “We pretty much know who comes in here. I’m not here 24 hours, but I’m here a good amount, and I’ve never seen him, and I’ve called all the help, and none of them have seen him in here.” But he’s seen plenty of reporters follow-ing this story. One gentleman from ABC got sideways with him, telling Melnick, “Well, I’ve got three people who say they’ve seen him there,” he relates. “I’ve got this guy who works here who came in about this time and he said, ‘Oh, yeah, that guy was selling dope and CDs outside in our parking lot.’ “I’m sorry,” Melnick concludes, “I don’t think the Ph.D. candidate was selling dope and CDs in my parking lot.” — Dave Herrera , 7:14 p.m. July 20 Rebecca Wingo’s loved ones remember her online: The sudden proliferation of James Holmes Facebook tribute pages exemplifies the outlets for venom the Internet provides in the wake of tragedies like the Aurora theater shootings. But the web can also serve as a valuable gathering place for people in mourning, as witnessed by a far more positive Facebook destination: Rebecca Wingo — In Memory. “I lost my daughter yesterday to a mad man, my grief right now is inconsolable,” Steve Hernandez wrote in a Facebook post over the weekend. “I hear she died instantly, without pain, however the pain is unbear-able, Lord why, why, why?” The Facebook page set up in Wingo’s memory features raw emotion like this. Just as important is a link to a gofundme. com page set up to raise money for the sup-port of the little girls Rebecca left behind. At this writing, more than $8,000 has been raised for a cause far better than li-onizing the person who brought so much senseless agony to so many people. — Michael Roberts , 12:50 p.m. July 23 These stories originally appeared on the Latest Word blog; for daily updates, go to latestwordblog.com. | OFF LIMITS | NIGHT+DAY | MOVIES | THEATER | ART | CAFE | BACKBEAT | WESTWORD J ULY 26-A UGUST 1, 2012 9

Latest Word

With the web, we could help shine a light on the tragedy of the Aurora shootings.<br /> <br /> Dark Night<br /> <br /> Thirteen years ago, when word that students were being held hostage at Columbine High School trickled into the Westword office, there was little that a weekly going to press that afternoon could do to cover the unfolding crisis. But early on July 20, when we woke to news of shootings at an Aurora movie theater, we had the web to work with. With Michael Roberts at the helm of the Latest Word, our news blog, we’ve been reporting on the tragedy since 5 a.m. that morning, and will continue to cover the story at westword.com. Here are just a few of the pieces we’ve published: <br /> <br /> Aurora is finally a household name...for the wrong reason: The City of Aurora and its booster group, Visit Aurora, have been working hard to advance the city’s profile, pushing the upstart suburb just east of Denver out from under the shadow of its older, bigger sibling and making it a household name across the country. Today it is. But this is not what Aurora envisioned.<br /> <br /> The shootings at a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises took place at the Century 16, a theater complex in the Aurora Town Center, the slick development that replaced the decrepit Aurora Mall. In many ways, the Aurora Town Center really is the center of the sprawling city.<br /> <br /> And now it’s at the center of the country’s attention, as everyone looks for an explanation of what propelled the shooter identified as James Holmes to commit this horrifying crime. Most of the headlines name-check Aurora as the site of the massacre, rather than tying it to a Denver suburb. “Aurora ‘Dark Knight Rises’ shootings have eerie overtones,’ in the Los Angeles Times. “12 shot dead at ‘Dark Knight Rises screening in Aurora, Colorado,” on MSNBC.<br /> <br /> Aurora has finally made its name. But this is not what it wanted — or what it deserves. — Patricia Calhoun, 7:25 a.m. July 20 <br /> <br /> James Holmes rumor mill after Aurora shootings: More viral than Columbine: In the aftershocks of the shootings at an Aurora theater that left twelve dead and dozens wounded, it’s inevitable that the tragedy would evoke comparisons to the 1999 attack on Columbine High School. Certainly, the instant online speculation about the shooter and his motives is eerily reminiscent of all the (mostly bogus) chatter about the Trench Coat Mafia that emerged after Columbine. But these days, the rumor mill touched off by a horror like this is a much more accelerated — and treacherous — phenomenon.<br /> <br /> Back in 1999, people still turned to something called “television” for much of their information. And Columbine was a madefor- TV event, a crisis that quickly turned into a siege thanks to slow-moving (and since abandoned) police response tactics, and unfolded over a period of hours leading into prime time. In addition, the well-stocked staffs of two — yes, two — daily newspapers descended on the school, as well as reporters from around the world.<br /> <br /> The story that emerged over the next few weeks about what happened at Columbine was, for the most part, subject to the traditional gatekeeping and we-knowwhat’s- best-for-you filtering of the mainstream media. That doesn’t mean they got it right. In fact, much of the lurid reporting about Goths and the supposed influence of Marilyn Manson was shoddy and goofy. Some reporters didn’t know how to access shooter Eric Harris’s AOL profile, or how to distinguish authentic online work by Harris and co-killer Dylan Klebold from imitations and forgeries, including a bogus suicide note that is still cited by duped Columbine researchers to this day.<br /> <br /> A true picture of the shooters and the why and how of the Columbine massacre unfolded over months and years, as amore witnesses came forward and key documents in the official investigation were made public. That may also be the case in the Aurora shootings. But we’re an impatient bunch, far more accustomed to instant answers than we were even a decade ago — and far more willing, in the absence of hard information, to settle for gibberish.<br /> <br /> A shooting at a midnight movie plays hell with the news cycle — too late for the print edition of our surviving daily, too early for the local blogosphere. A police press conference scheduled for later this morning could shed some more light, but in the meantime what’s trending online are the bare details of what’s known, notably the arrest of suspect James Holmes, and a great deal of what is not known and could be quite wrong.<br /> <br /> The answers to anything, as everybody knows by now, are to be found on Facebook. Pity every James Holmes in the vicinity of Aurora (or Tennessee, since Holmes’s car had Tennessee plates) with a Facebook page; they’re now being “outed” as possibly “the guy” by amateur sleuths everywhere. “Were I guessing, I’d say this IS NOT the page, but nothing else on Facebook that seems to fit well,” reports one ace detective on Right Wing News. “All the guy is going to have to do to show it isn’t him is update.”<br /> <br /> Elsewhere, the rumor mill is being rapidly stoked with vaguely sourced data concerning Holmes’s background and motives. On the aptly named site Hot Air, a commenter posts something he says comes from YouTube but references something that allegedly first appeared on the inane social media site 9gag: <br /> <br /> A few weeks ago, a man by the username of ‘JamesHolmes154Ð posted a thread on 9gag saying he was going to ‘shoot up’ a theater. He was clearly distressed and admitted he was suffering from PTSD. He said he was going to walk in and try to take as much lifes as possible. The whole 9gag community egged him on and give him tips on what to wear, etc. They give him tips on sharp-shooting and sent him messages on how to take as much lifes as possible. 9gag is a sick site and needs to be destroyed.<br /> <br /> A gratuitous blast at 9gag, or the real deal? Set your search engines for James- Holmes154, and get ready for the coming of the apocrypha. — Alan Prendergast, 9:43 a. m. July 20 <br /> <br /> James Holmes did not drink at the Zephyr Lounge, says Myron Melnick: James Holmes did not drink here. Earlier today, a media outlet interviewed a gentleman described as a bouncer at a bar that the accused Aurora Theater killer supposedly frequented.<br /> <br /> Melvin Evans is the man who claimed to have been working at the Zephyr Lounge a few Sundays ago when Holmes came in to listen to karaoke. “He was laid-back, kept to himself, never really talked to anybody,” Evans, wearing mirrored sunglasses, told a reporter. “The conversations we did have were very short. I mean, he was somebody that you wouldn’t even look at twice walking down the street. Very, very mellow.” <br /> <br /> “Melvin is full of it,” says Myron Melnick, who took the Zephyr over from his father, Barry, nearly a decade ago. “Melvin worked here four years ago.” That’s when he worked the door, anyway. According to Melnick, Evans came back two years ago and worked the parking lot from midnight to 3 a.m. for eight weeks. So no way could he have seen Holmes, who moved to Aurora last year, at the Zephyr.<br /> <br /> For that matter, “None of my bartenders have ever seen the guy,” Melnick says. “We pretty much know who comes in here. I’m not here 24 hours, but I’m here a good amount, and I’ve never seen him, and I’ve called all the help, and none of them have seen him in here.” <br /> <br /> But he’s seen plenty of reporters following this story. One gentleman from ABC got sideways with him, telling Melnick, “Well, I’ve got three people who say they’ve seen him there,” he relates. “I’ve got this guy who works here who came in about this time and he said, ‘Oh, yeah, that guy was selling dope and Cds outside in our parking lot.’ <br /> <br /> “I’m sorry,” Melnick concludes, “I don’t think the Ph.D. candidate was selling dope and Cds in my parking lot.” — Dave Herrera, 7:14 p.m. July 20<br /> <br /> Rebecca Wingo’s loved ones remember her online: The sudden proliferation of James Holmes Facebook tribute pages exemplifies the outlets for venom the Internet provides in the wake of tragedies like the Aurora theater shootings.<br /> <br /> But the web can also serve as a valuable gathering place for people in mourning, as witnessed by a far more positive Facebook destination: Rebecca Wingo — In Memory.<br /> <br /> “I lost my daughter yesterday to a mad man, my grief right now is inconsolable,” Steve Hernandez wrote in a Facebook post over the weekend. “I hear she died instantly, without pain, however the pain is unbearable, Lord why, why, why?” <br /> <br /> The Facebook page set up in Wingo’s memory features raw emotion like this.<br /> <br /> Just as important is a link to a gofundme.Com page set up to raise money for the support of the little girls Rebecca left behind.<br /> <br /> At this writing, more than $8,000 has been raised for a cause far better than lionizing the person who brought so much senseless agony to so many people. — Michael Roberts, 12:50 p.m. July 23 <br /> <br /> These stories originally appeared on the Latest Word blog; for daily updates, go to latestwordblog.com.

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