The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

By Rob Langrell

Sadly, people learned where Clovis was this week


September 3, 2017

People across the nation and the world learned about Clovis this week. Sadly, it was for all of the wrong reasons.

The mass shooting at the Clovis-Carver Public Library on Monday afternoon made news across the globe. Unfortunately, that's reality when bad things transpire in faraway communities.

We've printed those stories of other communities as a newspaper, way too many times to count. The datelines on many of those carried big city locales such as Chicago, Baltimore, New York, St. Louis and Los Angeles.

This one was different. It hit close to home, right here in our own backyard.

I can see the library out the window of my office. Our newspaper's buildings are a block south of the scene of one of Clovis' most tragic events.

On Monday, one of our employees heard the call of “an active shooter” in the library come across the police scanner. Our staff quickly kicked into gear. As police officers and ambulance crews converged onto the scene, the sirens added an audio dimension to the already all-too-real situation.

Our photographer, Tony Bullocks, quickly arrived on foot. He captured intense and impactful images as police officers carried library workers and patrons to safety — some injured, some unscathed (at least physically). Tony even snapped photos of an officer leading suspected shooter Nathaniel Jouett in handcuffs out the library doors and to a police cruiser.

We had those images online less than an hour after the shooting began and printed many of them in Tuesday's edition. Some readers balked that we used them, but we were simply doing our job in portraying and covering the tragedy.

One of Tony's photos, the striking image of injured library worker Jessica Thron being carried to an ambulance, was published across the globe. It appeared in the Washington Post, New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Time magazine and The Daily Telegraph of London just to name a few.

It told a heartbreaking story, with no words required.

Also in Tuesday's paper, we identified the 16-year-old Jouett as the person in custody. We also named the two library workers who died in the attack, circulation assistant Wanda Walters, 61, and youth services librarian Kristina Carter, 48.

Police wouldn't release the name of the suspect nor the identities of the dead or injured victims at Monday night's press conference at City Hall. As a newspaper, we independently verified all of that information and were 100 percent confident we had it right.

It's encouraged to be first; it's imperative to be accurate. We were both in this case.

We were the only news outlet to publish that information online as early as Monday night and in the next day's edition of The News. We felt it was important to let our community know who was in custody and which friends they had lost in this senseless crime.

Some questioned printing the name of a juvenile accused of a crime. That one was easy: we named Jouett in this case because of the seriousness of the charges, and our later-justified intuition authorities would try to prosecute him as an adult.

On Wednesday, we requested, received and reviewed the court documents that were filed in this case. We posted those on our website in their entirety for all to see. They're public documents, after all.

A handful of readers were concerned those docs contained personal information and ugly details about Jouett. We are not comfortable "editing" an official record so it reflects only information we want readers to know. Not in this case. Not after what's happened.

We are not in the secret-keeping business. Rather, we're here to provide information and tell the stories. Given the magnitude of this week’s events, we chose to publish them.

As devastating as the events were, Clovis has come together. It's clear we have a strong community of great leaders and residents. That's apparent through the memorial outside the library, the community prayer vigil on Thursday night and the abundance of purple bows adorning businesses and homes throughout the city.

I wish the world could have learned about that side of Clovis instead.

Rob Langrell is the publisher of The Eastern New Mexico News. Contact him at: [email protected]


Reader Comments

Steve Gershon writes:

Very good story and the truth you have to love. For labor day I traveled to Colorado on my motorcycle and on my vest is a patch for the D.A.V Clovis chapter, when people where ever we stopped or talked they asked if that was where the library shooting occurred. Short answer, Yes, and we got the same results all the time, that the city was crazy and so was the shooting, my response was the same tragic but not your small town but Clovis is a city now and people there don't really know its a city.


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