WBAL in Baltimore says they are sorry for spreading wrong information in the mall shooting that happened in January.
Police saying definitively Wednesday that there was no "domestic" motive for the Columbia Mall shooting in January that left three people dead, WBAL apologized for its reporting on the story.
Most of that bad reporting came from John Patti, an anchor and reporter at WBAL Radio. His erroneous reports were also carried on WBAL-TV.
“Columbia Mall shooting domestic. Former boyfriend of Zumiez clerk shot her and new boyfriend also an employee of store," Patti tweeted on Jan. 25.
Patti reported more details of an alleged relationship on WBAL-TV, saying “this is indeed a domestic incident” and that the two victims were “engaged to be married.”
But none of it was true, according the report from the Howard County Police today.
"Police have confirmed that there was NO CONNECTION between the shooter, Darion Marcus Aguilar,19, and the two victims, Brianna Benlolo, 21 and Tyler Johnson, 25. Extensive searches of computers, cell phones and other records showed no indication that the shooter knew the victims or targeted them in any way," police said in statement that included the "NO CONNECTION" is capital letters.
"As the news unfolded the day of the shooting, WBAL reported that the victims, Brianna Benlolo and Tyler Johnson were involved in [a] personal relationship, and that this relationship was the reason Darion Aguilar may have carried out these crimes," Michelle Butt, WBAL news director, said in a statement posted online. "This information was based on sources connected to the case but has proven to be false. We regret the mistake and any additional hardship this may have brought to the Benlolo and Johnson families."
The statement appears on the WBAL radio website at the end of a story headlined, “Howard County Police Release Investigation Results of Columbia Mall Shooting.” The story is attributed to “Associated Press and WBAL Radio.”
The apology does not appear on the WBAL-TV website.
Butts explained by saying WBAL management thought the problem was with Patti's tweet, which reported the shooting as "domestic" without qualification. Patti is identified on his twitter account as an employee of WBAL Radio. She said management feels his TV reports did not warrant such an apology, since he attributed what he was saying in them to sources.
"We said we would address it when the time came, and we have," Butt told The Baltimore Sun on Wednesday, adding that station management was done talking about it. "We said we would address it and move on, and we are moving on."
H/T Baltimore Sun