How does social media get into the middle of a police shootout? When local law enforcement asks the media to stop using Twitter to report the news — and makes that request with a tweet.
The San Bernadino district attorney’s office relayed a message from the sheriff’s office, stemming from concerns that the accuracy of a reporter’s live-tweeting could actually aid alleged murderer Christopher Dorner, who reportedly shot at and injured two police during the shootout today. But such information is breaking news, and nowadays, Twitter is a hub for breaking news.
The tweet from the DA read, “The sheriff has asked all members of the press to stop tweeting immediately. It is hindering officer safety. #Dorner”
Dorner, a disgruntled former police officer with the Los Angeles Police Department, recently shot and killed three individuals and has since been on the run. For a number of days police were hoping tips from locals would lead them to the suspect, and they responded to a report of a woman tied up in a Bear Bear, Calif., cabin. Officers surrounded the cabin this afternoon, leading to the shootout (which has since become a standoff). At the time of this report, the standoff is still in progress, and police are asking Dorner to end the fight and turn himself in.
A number of reporters were tweeting about the situation, including a local reporter for the Riverside Press-Enterprise who was listening to a police scanner. The tweets reported up-to-the-minute activities of those on the scene, including police plans on how to get the wounded officers out of the “kill zone.”
The Press-Enterprise responded with a tweet saying it would comply with the request and no longer tweet any tactical information.
Whether the officer injuries and the tweets are connected is unknown. We’ve reached out to the San Bernadino’s DA office and will update when we hear back.