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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Wrong man?

Can someone tell me what's wrong with this picture?

Well, if you read deep into the Herald's story about yesterday's murder in Needham, you will quickly discover the man at the business end of the State Police automatic weapon has nothing to do with the murder they were investigating.

The Page One caption reads: A state police trooper trains his gun on a man he takes into custody at a Needham Center pizza parlor yesterday afternoon.

Seems like the Staties got their man, right?

Not if you read all the way to the end of the story:

In the other incident, police descended on downtown Needham with weapons drawn and arrested a man after a report of a person with a gun. Employees at the CVS next door locked up after a person ran in and said someone had a gun.

At Stone Hearth Pizza, a manager called the cops after a “very agitated” man came in, ordered a pizza with peppers and mushrooms, paced back and forth and changed his clothes in the shop’s bathroom.

A server calmly walked over to the shop’s only customers, a mother and son, and ushered them out. The shop’s eight employees safely left before the cops surrounded the shop.

Sources said there likely will be no charges against the man taken into custody at the pizza parlor. Sources said no gun was found, and investigators found no evidence of a crime.

This is not a slap at police, justifiably nervous town residents or the reporters who obviously did their job correctly.

But it is a question for Herald editors: why did you decide to run a picture, clearly identifying a "very agitated" man who, as a result of your own reporters work, you knew had no gun and probably committed no crime -- certainly not the crime that had Needham upset and angry and was the focus of your story.

And don't tell me the weasel words "downtown standoff" justify improperly linking someone who picked the wrong place and wrong to order a pizza with an unrelated murder.

Sometime ethics trumps a good picture. Heck, ethics ALWAYS trumps a good picture.

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Blogger John said...


“There should be reason to feel safe in Needham, and there’s no reason to be fearful right now,” Norfolk District Attorney William R. Keating told reporters gathered at the town police station.” So reports the Boston Globe this morning.

Unless, apparently, you want to have a sprinkler system installed, or buy a pizza and use your cell phone at the same time. While we’ll just have to wait and see why William Dunn allegedly beat his 78-year old customer to death (Needham’s first murder since the grisly Beldotti case), the more interesting question focuses on the yet-unidentified man captured outside Needham’s Stone Hearth Pizza. According to the story, written by Ralph Ranalli and Lisa Kocian, a Stone Hearth employee called the police because of the customer’s extremely suspicious actions, to wit:

1. He appeared to be in his mid 30s;
2. He ordered a small pizza;
3. He ordered a soda (no size given);
4. He changed his clothes in the bathroom–evidently putting a suit on, judging from the photos;
5. He kept walking to the windows and looking outside; and
6. He talked on his cell phone.

So, admittedly, the change in clothes is a little odd, as Republican supporters of Greg Hyatt will no doubt recall, but was the rest of what he did worth turning Needham Center into a Dog Day Afternoon rerun for most of the afternoon?

Maybe our friend should have ordered the large pizza–as everyone knows, only real troublemakers order the small ones.


November 03, 2007 8:04 PM  

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