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EDITORIAL: The mass shooting that didn't count

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Posted at 6:28 PM, Feb 15, 2018
and last updated 2019-01-25 17:03:27-05

Did you know there was a mass shooting in Northeast Ohio earlier this month?

You didn't?

You're not alone.

Before we talk about that shooting, let's define some terms.

A mass shooting or mass killing is defined as "multiple homicide incidents in which four or more victims are murdered with firearms, within one event, and in one or more locations in close proximity," according to the Congressional Research Service.

A Cleveland FBI spokesperson defined a mass shooting as "four or more shot and/or killed in a single event [incident], at the same general time and location, not including the shooter." 

Bottom line: There doesn't seem to be an exact definition, but if we go by the FBI, we just had one in Cleveland.

It was an incident that happened in Cleveland's backyard earlier this month.

On Feb. 3, a gunman opened fire on patrons of a local bar in Garfield Heights. (You can read and watch our coverage here.)

The shooting happened just after 1 a.m. at Topicz Sports Lounge, 11321 Broadway Avenue.

One person was found laying on the sidewalk with a gunshot wound when authorities arrived. The man, identified as 22-year-old Michael T. Jones, died later that morning.

Other people with gunshot wounds soon showed up at local hospitals. 

In total, one person died, and five others were injured in the shooting.

According to a police spokesperson, no arrests have been made.

Is this a mass shooting? According to the FBI, yes. So where was the outrage? The definitions for mass shooting don't mention location, but it sure seems--unofficially--that location matters. The tragedy in this case was dismissed, but what if six people were shot and one of them was killed at a mall? Or an airport? Why did this mass shooting merit less public outrage? 

When News 5 originally published the story on Facebook, people flooded the article with derogatory comments dismissing the shooting because of where it took place. You could almost hear the sighs and "oh, well" when reading the comments. 

"All I had to do was read the spelling of the bar and that's all I needed to know," one person said. He followed up the comment with a silly wink emoji and "I don't give a rat's a**" meme.

Another person replied to the article with "you deserve what happens when it comes to bars and drunks."

Think about that for a second. When did mocking the victims of a mass shooting become socially acceptable? 

We should be outraged by mass shootings. In all of their forms — whether at school in Florida, or right here in our backyard.

It's appalling that a mass shooting can be discounted simply because it didn't take place in a nicer neighborhood or a more upscale location.

When we dismiss a mass shooting just because of socioeconomic factors, we all become part of a larger problem — a society that accepts violence as a norm.