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As news outlets reported the tragic shooting of two Roanoke, Virginia journalists on Wednesday, at least a handful of media players posted a photo of a Black man they identified as the suspected shooter and former WDBJ employee, Vester Lee Flanagan.

Problem is, the photo – which showed the Black man sitting between shooting victim Alison Parker and her boyfriend Chris Hurst – wasn’t of the alleged shooter. It was Sherman Lea Jr., executive director of New Hope Support Services, according to

Shortly after his photo began to circulate online, Lea took to Twitter to clear up the confusion, making note of how dangerous it was to misidentify the suspected shooter during an active police pursuit.

While news outlets have corrected the mistake, the fact still remains that a simple misidentification could have been costly for Lea and his loved ones. And when compounded with the racial undertones this dredges up — a nod to the often racially biased media coverage that suggests all Black people look alike — it’s too severe of a blunder to overlook.

In many cases, it’s simply annoying and insulting. But for Lea, it could have been deadly.

SOURCE: New Republic | PHOTO CREIT: Getty, Twitter

So This Happened: Media Misidentified Man As Alleged WDBJ Shooter Vester Flanagan, Apologizes For Mistake  was originally published on

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