To follow-up on my post regarding a fired bullet that was found on campus last week, I'd first like to thank Dean Carlson and campus safety for responding in the manner they did.
On Friday, the day after I posted, I was informed that campus safety and the River Forest police were investigating the area I described where the bullet was found. Two officers and DU's Joel Nayder, of campus safety, examined the area searching for any other signs of fire arms or gun fire.
"The police and I found no evidence of anything being shot on campus. There were no casings or damage to any property," Nayder said. "Judging from the pictures, we guessed that (the bullet) had not been shot from a close range. But that is just a guess."
Nayder also went on to explain that bullets can travel for miles. If a person shoots a gun up into the air, the bullet may not come down for several miles. Officer Murillo, who was part of the investigation, also said that this could have been a possibility.
The original post was published at 3:40 p.m. on Thursday. Nayder informed me that Dean Carlson emailed campus safety Friday at 11:48 p.m. Campus safety then contacted River Forest police at 11:50 a.m. and they responded to Dominican's call by 12:02 p.m.
Being the thorough reporter I am, I went to the police station, spoke with Officer Murillo and filed a Freedom of Information Request for the police report. I arrived at the police station with Ashton Baran, one of the men who found the bullet. After the investigation was completed, R.F.P.D. contacted both Baran and Conrad Sewinski hoping to obtain additional information and the bullet itself. However, the information Dominican provided the officers was not the most direct. While driving to the police station, Baran's mother called him panicking about getting a phone call from the police. After calming his mother, Baran handed the bullet to police custody. Although Murillo would not speak on the record, I was able to meet with the deputy chief. He was not informed of the case but based on the facts I provided him, he told me the crime lab may or may not analyze the bullet to see when and where it was shot and from which type of gun.
While I was unable to get in touch with Dean Carlson early Friday afternoon, I was able to speak with him via telephone around 4:30 that evening. About an hour after we spoke, he posted another comment on the original posting.
Both Dean Carlson and campus safety asked me why I posted first rather than report directly to security. I don't really think journalism necessarily has to work that way. I understand why they would be upset and I'm sure I'd report before posting on a larger concern or public interest, but I do not regret handling the situation the way I did. I think that this blog is becoming bigger everyday and as more people leak tips to us, more news will break from DominiNET first. And because I was faced with a question of ethics before originally posting, I contacted two (DominiNET bloggers whom I believe are some of the strongest) journalists at DU about whether or not I should post before reporting. Both agreed with my idea to post and encouraged me to go forward. I did. And because of that, DominiNET is more fired up.
Be sure to pick up the next issue of the Dominican STAR to read more about the postings and investigation. The next issue is available on news stands Wednesday, Nov. 19.