A University of North Texas student who was a designated driver on New Year’s Eve died Friday after being shot while behind the wheel, police said.The young lady - the victim - is the daughter of a friend of a friend. I don't know them, but I certainly feel for them. There are many similarities between Sara Mutschlechner and our daughter; about the same age, young women off at college, responsible and caring young people who do the right things, etc. But what I find troubling, aside from the tragic and senseless loss of life, is how the story was reported. Here's the rest of this particular version.
Sara Mutschlechner, 20, was taken off life support Friday evening at Denton Regional Medical Center, a police spokesman said.
She was found by officers about 2 a.m. Friday in the 1700 block of North Elm St., lying outside the sedan she had been driving.Here's how the story was reported in several other news outlets (this particular one is from ABC 'News').
The car had crashed into an electric pole, said officer Shane Kizer, a police spokesman.
Witnesses told police that a black Lexus SUV occupied by “five or six black males” drove up next to the sedan and “several words were exchanged” between people in both vehicles, Kizer said. As the two vehicles crossed University Drive, someone in the SUV fired at Mutschlechner, police said.
She was struck in the head, and the car hit another vehicle before crashing. The SUV fled, police said.
Denton police say the gunman was in a black Lexus SUV occupied by five or six men.Notice what detail was left out.
From the first report: "a black Lexus SUV occupied by five or six black males..."
From other reports: "a black Lexus SUV occupied by five or six men..."This isn't about racism. It's about reporting relevant facts that might help identify the perpetrators. The media reported the color of the SUV. Why is that fact relevant, but the color of the suspects not relevant? If we're going to neglect to report race, why don't we ignore gender as well?
"a black Lexus SUV occupied by five or six people..."That's much better. It may not help police track down the suspects, but at least it won't offend anyone.
Have we become so scared of racial issues that we no longer have the courage to include the race of suspects in their descriptions?
I fear the answer is "Yes..."