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Arizona man kills himself on live television after pursuit
PHOENIX, Sept 28 |
PHOENIX, Sept 28 (Reuters) - A suspected carjacker shot himself to death after a police chase in Arizona on Friday in a grim spectacle aired on live television - sparking a quick on-air apology and waves of outrage across social media.
The man was seen on the Fox News Channel stumbling from a dark red vehicle into the desert near Phoenix, stopping a short distance away and then apparently pulling the trigger of a gun pointed to the right side of his head. He then crumpled face-forward into the ground.
Anchor Shepard Smith shouted, "Get off it!" repeatedly, apparently asking his control room to cut away from the shot. The network quickly cut to a commercial and when Smith returned, he apologized for the incident.
"We really messed up and we're all very sorry," Smith told viewers. "That didn't belong on TV. We took every precaution we knew how to take to keep that from being on TV. And I personally apologize to you that happened."
Social media erupted quickly with reaction to the televised incident, much of it negative.
"Cannot believe FOX let a live suicide air over their network, my heart literally sank watching that.. #appalled," said a Twitter user who identified herself as Kelcey Brand.
The Columbia Journalism Review asked in a tweet: "Who's worse? @FoxNews for airing the suicide, or @Buzzfeed for re-posting the video just in case you missed it the first time?"
Andrew Kaczynski, a reporter for BuzzFeed Politics, tweeted back to Columbia Journalism Review: "I prefer your whiny usually incorrect long form analysis pieces over your instant judgement."
Phoenix police spokesman Sergeant Tommy Thompson said the man, who was not immediately identified, was being pursued by officers after carjacking a 2008 Dodge Caliber, apparently the vehicle seen in the television broadcast.
Thompson said the man had taken the car at gunpoint from two people in west Phoenix about 11 a.m. local time and was chased by police through city streets and a state highway before ending up on a dirt road.
The man fired at officers and a police helicopter at one point during the pursuit, but there were no other injuries, Thompson said. He said the man died at the scene from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
"We don't know why he shot himself right now," Thompson said. "That's something that we may find out once we find out with some more time. We're not there now." (Additional reporting by Dan Whitcomb and Mary Slosson; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Peter Cooney)
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