A picture posted on the website of CBS Radio Cleveland alt-rock/talk WKRK/92.3 "K-Rock" morning host Shane "Rover" French today has caused a raft of controversy.
The site operated by the "Rover's Morning Glory" show, RoverRadio.com, posted a graphic picture that it said could be of school shooter 14 year-old Asa Coon - taken immediately after his self-inflicted shooting death at Cleveland's SuccessTech Academy this Wednesday.
The page is titled "School Shooter Dead?" with a question mark in that title:
"Supposedly a cop took this picture of school-shooter Asa Coon after killed himself. We have not been able to verify the authenticity of this picture."
As it turns out, the picture was apparently quite real...though it it's not known who took the picture, or if they were a member of local law enforcement.
ABC affiliate WEWS/5 "NewsChannel 5" reported this afternoon that the authenticity of the picture has been confirmed by a law enforcement source "close to the investigation", and there are questions about how the impromptu photographer had access to take such a picture - as "there was limited access to the scene after the shootings."
Meanwhile, the posting of the picture on the RoverRadio.com elicited a response from station management, and eventually, from Mr. French himself - who pulled the picture with this comment:
"I have decided to remove this image.
Some people think that if kids see the image, it will encourage them to do the same type of violence. I disagree - I actually think it will discourage kids after they see the reality and finality of such a senseless act.
Also, while media reports have painted the shooter's family as being partly to blame, I'm sure the perpetrator had some decent family members who would be offended at the display of such an image.
I haven't been pressured to remove the image, I did so of my own free will, and believe it to be the best decision in the long run."
Meanwhile, WEWS quoted a statement from WKRK/WNCX VP/general manager Tom Herschel:
"When we were made aware of the image on his website, we asked him to take it down, and he did."
No matter who made the decision to pull the picture, the controversy surrounding it gives Rover and "K-Rock" yet another spate of free publicity.
Even if you take Rover at his word in the above message - and we do, basically - he had to realize the moment he put up the picture that it would end in a blaze of local, and even national, media publicity.
And posting the picture aims right at the show's target audience, a younger, mostly male group that likes "edgy" radio. (Remember, his home station was once known as "Xtreme Radio".)
It's all a bit distasteful for us, but we're not in Mr. French's target audience...