DOWN: The July 4 shooting death of a rural Mount Blanchard man is a tragedy. While the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office and county prosecutor are still investigating, they dropped the ball by failing to keep the public updated after the incident. So far, a woman who made a 911 call to the sheriff’s office to report the incident is in custody for allegedly getting rid of a gun that may have been used in the shooting. But relatively little else has been revealed. It took the sheriff’s office 11 days to even disclose that the death resulted from a gun wound. Worse yet? Media cooperated with law enforcement requests seeking information from the public concerning the whereabouts of a person of interest (the same woman who made the 911 call), but then never notified the media that the woman was located in Findlay and taken into custody. That arrest was only brought to light after a reporter saw the woman’s name listed on the sheriff’s “active inmate” list on the internet. The lack of information in the immediate aftermath of a shooting jeopardized public safety, since the person of interest had possession of a firearm and was not located for over a week. Certain details from any crime may need to be kept under wraps while an investigation is unfolding. But the public should be kept in the loop when a potentially dangerous suspect is at large, or at least advised there is no cause for concern. In this case, the sheriff’s office and prosecutor’s office failed to do either.

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