Update: Community feedback follows report on a shooting in Kensington

Kensington_0427-1Neighbors gather around the victims’ car after two men were shot — one fatally — last Friday in the Kensington section of Philadelphia. Photograph by Sarah Fry for This is Kensington.

Amber Street Fatal Double Shooting

Police recover a gun after the shooting in Kensington. Photograph for the Gun Crisis Reporting Project by Joseph Kaczmarek.

Joe Kaczmarek, a partner in the Gun Crisis Reporting Project, covered the aftermath and investigation following the Kensigton incident for a post that we published last Saturday morning.

We were also offered permission to share content from the incident that was delivered to us by participants in This is Kensington, which is described on their site as an “independent documentary project searching for untold stories in the Kensington section of Philadelphia.”

Full disclosure: Our reporting communities have previously intersected at a journalism school, a national photojournalism organization and a local press club. Philadelphia is a small town in many ways.

Two days after the shooting, we used some of that work in a post reporting on how the This is Kensington team got caught in the middle of the shooting. We chose not to publish some of their most explicit photos but included a graphic content warning and link to a video containing those photos — which incuded a stark image of the fatally wounded victim.

Everyday at the Gun Crisis Reporting Project, we make decisions in the reporting and editing processes on which content comes closest to telling the truth about gun violence in Philadelphia, striving to responsibly inform our readers without imposing excessively traumatic images on our communities. And that is a difficult process every day.

Yesterday, we took down the link to the video after receiving an email from Bill Kinkle, a Kensington native and now a missionary at Cornerstone Community Church in Kensington.

Kinkle says that he previously worked as a nurse and paramedic at a Philadelphia hospital and “saw on average of three gunshot wounds daily.” Kinkle explains:

“During my time in healthcare we spent an enormous amount of time cleaning the bodies of the deceased before allowing the families to see them. The images of a loved one’s last moments are imprinted in the memories of the bereaved and I am afraid there will be a lot of hurt when friends and family see their friend or dad slumped over in a car from a violent death.”

At the same time, other news organizations have since shared the video and we saw a wide spectrum of comments reacting to the video across social media, including “needs to be seen,” “keep doing what you’re doing, it’s important” and “glad you.. did what you did.”


A medic responds to the shooting scene. Photograph for This is Kensigton by Sarah Fry.

Some expressed fear of gun violence, pride among reporting colleagues and relief that they were not wounded.

Others expressed thoughts and prayers for the families involved, and empathy for the local community — including one who simply said “I feel terrible for the little girl.”

We see now that This is Kensington has also taken the video offline — and we support that decision. But we also understand how difficult these decisions can be.

At the Gun Crisis Reporting Project, we take great care in reporting. Our four primary staffers represent more than 50 years of Philadelphia reporting experience. Two of us explicitly studied traumatic event coverage at the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma — and all of our partners are mindful of our primary responsibilities to the community. That’s why we’re out there in the first place.

Please share your thoughts on any of our reporting in the comment section beneath each post or across our social media channels. Your feedback is critical.

Amber Street Fatal Double Shooting

Philadelphia Police officers look into the victim’s car at the scene of last Friday’s shooting in Kensington. Photograph for the Gun Crisis Reporting Project by Jospeh Kaczmarek.

As we previously reported, police said the officers who witnessed the shooting were in a marked car and in uniform right behind the suspect when he opened fire. According to officials, the shooter dropped his bike and fled but was captured following brief foot pursuit. Officers recovered a .38 caliber revolver that they say was discarded during the chase.

According to philly.com, Daniel Walker, 24, of Wishart Street near Jasper in Kensington, is charged with murder and related offenses for allegedly pulling a gun and firing into the victims’ car. Theodore Cossum, 20, was shot and killed and a 27-year-old passenger was wounded.

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