On Thursday, a man reportedly dressed in body armor ran into a crowded room and opened fire with a high-powered assault-style rifle, killing three and injuring six. But television stations didn’t cut away to report on the horrific event. In fact, it’s likely this is the first you’re hearing about it.
What makes this shooting different? Several things. First, it happened in Detroit, a city with a staggeringly high murder rate. Second, the reported gunman had a criminal history, and may have had a longstanding feud with some of the victims. And, third, it happened in a space where many people can’t imagine themselves: a gambling session in the back room of a barber shop.
But the quotes coming out of the shooting at Al’s Place Barber Shop are as heartbreaking as those you’d hear anywhere.
“Police wear body armor. Why would a community member be driving around in body armor?” asked Detroit Police Chief James Craig in a press conference following the shooting. Craig called the violence “urban terrorism.”
“I’m angry that it happened. I’m angry that people are dead,” Arnold Redmond, one of those injured in shooting, told the Detroit Free Press. Redmond also insisted that the shooting had nothing to do with “the barbershop or any of the people associated with it.”
Sadly, the relative media ignorance of the shooting tracks with a common theme: Gun crimes often occur in low-income neighborhoods with largely non-white victims, but, from the news, you’d think every shooting put the white and affluent at risk of violence. There’s an obvious reason from a producer’s perspective: They want traffic, or viewers, and think they can get more if more well-off news consumers are self-concerned with the story. But it doesn’t reflect the reality of gun violence in the United States, where black people are far more likely to be victims of gun homicides compared to their white counterparts.
The three victims have been identified as Joezell Williams, 61, Bryan Williams, 29, and Kevin Perryman, 40. Police say each one was shot at least twice.