The strange story of the Navy Yard shooting photo

The photo of the man lying on the street corner has always seemed strange. However, the photo is not as strange as the stories surrounding it.

Here is the photo:

body on corner 1

The scene from a different angle:

body on corner 2

It seems these photos were tweeted on the morning of the shooting and immediately picked up by the mainstream media. The AP caption:

In this photo [the top photo], which The AP obtained from Don Andres, shooting victim Vishnu Pandit is assisted on the sidewalk while awaiting the arrival of emergency medical personnel after coworkers took him by car from the Washington Navy Yard to receive medical attention Monday, Sept. 16, 2013, in Washington. Pandit died of his injuries.

Since most mainstream media news is recycled AP stories, the top photo went viral. However, by the 17th, news outlets, such as theatlanticwire.com, were reporting that the event on the corner was not related to the Navy Yard event:

One of the most widely circulated images during yesterday’s Navy Yard shooting turned out to not be related to the shooting at all, but that couldn’t stop it from being shared by thousands of Twitter users and many media outlets.

There were actually two photos posted to Twitter yesterday by Tim Hogan that depicted a man on the ground surrounded by medical personnel in the area near the Washington Navy Yard. Because of the location and timing of the incident, most people, including the person who took them, assumed it was related to the nearby shooting. Today, a spokesman for the Associated Press told The Atlantic Wire that the man on the ground was, in fact, unrelated to the shooting. Both Colford and Hogan expressed remorse at the actions that led to the error being picked up and spread by so many media outlets and Internet users.

However, by the 19th, the AP decided that the man had indeed been shot at the Navy Yard and subsequently driven to the street corner, which is about half a mile away from where the shooting allegedly occurred. Here is part of the AP‘s ridiculous story:

WASHINGTON (AP) — The first bang sounded distant and muffled. On the fourth floor, Bertillia Lavern assumed somebody downstairs was setting up for an event and had dropped a folding table.

But when the bangs kept coming, Lavern recognized the sounds…

Lavern crawled to her desk to grab her identification badge and her purse. From there she saw her colleague, Vishnu Pandit.

“He was down.”

…Using tissues from his desk, Lavern pressed her hand against her friend’s head. She held him there and prayed over him.

“I felt him breathe,” she said.

She felt for his pulse. Amazingly, it was strong.

She turned to Kelly: “We need help now!”

…They continued downstairs and escaped through a side door, where she said they found a security guard in an unmarked car.

A gunman was on the loose and the security guard was worried about leaving his post. Still, he took Lavern and Pandit into the car and raced off. They made it off the grounds of the Navy Yard and to a street corner a few blocks away. The security guard needed to get back to his post and asked police who were there to get an ambulance immediately.

Lavern eased her friend to the pavement. His pulse was gone….

Pandit was pronounced dead on arrival at George Washington University Hospital, where Dr. Babak Sarani, the hospital’s director of trauma and acute care surgery, called the injury “not survivable.”

Seriously, that’s the story they decided to publish. It sounds like something written by a high school journalist who’s taken too many creative writing classes. Is this what passes for journalism these days? As for the security guard and Mrs. Lavern, don’t they own cell phones? Lavern had taken the time to grab her purse. Why did they have to ask the police to call an ambulance?

Anyway, here’s a map of their journey:

body on corner 3 location

The story gets even more strange. It seems the photographs were originally tweeted by Tim Hogan, a congressional staffer for Steve Horsford. One alternative journalist calls Hogan Horsford’s “PR guy”. It seems Horsford isn’t very popular with some of his gun-owning constituents in Nevada. Horsford is in favor of enhanced background checks for gun purchasers and he doesn’t like military-style weapons in the hands of American citizens. It seems he is only as pro-Second Amendment as necessary to get elected.

About the photographs, according to theatlanticwire.com:

The pictures, which had been taken and texted to Hogan by his fellow congressional staffer, Don Andres, spread like wildfire from there, garnering almost 700 combined retweets; although the image itself (removed from the original tweet) spread even further.

According to the article, the AP contacted Hogan, authenticated the photos, and distributed them sometime around 11:30 am on the 16th. At 1:05 pm, the AP issued a disclaimer that they were “further investigating the details in [the] photos.” At 5:53 pm, they pulled the photos stating they had been unable to confirm that they were related to the shooting. Apparently:

…the image desk decided that it was “unrelated to the violence at the Navy Yard”

As for Hogan, he

expressed remorse about the decision to post the photos. His follow-up pleas to exercise caution received much less attention than the ones that were continually shared across social media.

In addition:

Andres, the actual photographer, later in the day spoke on MSNBC about taking the pictures while driving into work…

“I don’t know what happened to the man, I don’t know if it’s related. All I know is that people just began running up to him and tending to him…

When I first saw the man no one was tending to him, and just in those two seconds a few people started running up to him.”

What about Mr. Pandit’s good friend, Bertillia Lavern? The AP story suggests that she was with him the entire time:

Others came to help and Lavern kept talking to her friend…

Within two minutes of being dispatched, an ambulance arrived. Lavern asked to go to the hospital with him but a detective told her she needed to give a police report instead.

The AP story also reports that the ambulance arrived in two minutes. However, it additionally reports that a man in a nearby building saw Pandit on the ground, debated whether he should help, grabbed a defibrillator, rode the elevator eleven stories down, ran through the lobby and across the intersection, and attached the machine’s pads to Pandit’s chest. When the machine recommended not using shock, Lavern continued administering CPR. It seems all of that would have taken more than two minutes. And who’s ever heard of a detective arriving at a scene before emergency personnel?

Andres speculated during his MSNBC interview that the man on the ground was likely suffering a heart attack. However, why would Andres forward photos of a heart attack victim to Hogan? In addition, how did he know that a shooting had taken place? The man with the defibrillator stated that he and his colleagues noticed Pandit lying on the ground while they watched police cars “screaming toward the Navy Yard.” If the police just found out, would the public have had time to get news of a shooting?

The stories surrounding Pandit and the photographs seem completely implausible. Not only are the photos strange (who is putting up the crime scene tape?), but the timeline doesn’t fit. And who would drive off with a man who’s been shot in the head and leave him a few blocks away on a sidewalk? Don’t they have medical personnel at the Navy Yard? If it’s true, Pandit’s family should be hiring a lawyer.

And what about news footage on the day of the event showing the “wounded” being lifted from a Navy Yard roof by helicopters? And how about the official surveillance footage that has no time stamp and reveals that Alexis did not carry a bag large enough to hold the gun he allegedly used?

Nothing about this story makes sense, except the idea that an anti-gun congressman and his helpers would want to exploit the story of a shooting-spree. Again, I wonder how Andres could have known about the shooting when he took the photographs? For what it’s worth, his boss, Horsford, is on the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security.

This post has offered just a few highlights of the stories surrounding the photos. There is more to the AP story and more to the Navy Yard shooting, an event which both mainstream and alternative media quickly forgot. Did Alexis’ allegations of electronic harassment help them decide to drop it? That’s another strange and interesting element in the whole weird event.

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