Harford council president critiques media coverage of shooting at Rite Aid facility

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Harford County Council President Richard Slutzky took some media entities to task, including this newspaper, for their coverage of the recent deadly shooting at the Rite Aid distribution center, as it was initially reported that the Rite Aid facility is in Aberdeen.

“The industrial park and the Rite Aid facility is not in the municipality of Aberdeen,” Slutzky said during a council meeting Tuesday evening, the council’s first legislative session since the Sept. 20 shootings at the Rite Aid facility in the Enterprise Business Park. “It’s in an unincorporated area of Harford County known as the Perryman peninsula.”

Four people, including the shooter, died during the second workplace shooting in Harford County in less than a year. Three others were injured. The shooter, 26-year-old Snochia Moseley, of White Marsh, whom Harford County Sheriff’s Office officials has said was suffering from acute schizophrenia, took her own life.

Slutzky addressed the location issue during the portion of council meetings reserved for remarks from the council president.

He said the mistaken identification “was not fake news, it was just incompetent news.”

“The reason that that was distressing for me, not only as a member of this council but as a citizen of Aberdeen, is that this kind of shadow over the city of Aberdeen was going out nationally about an event that did not happen in Aberdeen,” Slutzky said.

Slutzky resides in Aberdeen and is a former teacher and coach at Aberdeen High School.

“We have many contractors that want to come to Aberdeen to work on government projects with APG [Aberdeen Proving Ground],” he said. “We have other businesses that we’re trying to attract to the area.”

The Rite Aid distribution center where the shootings occurred is in the Enterprise Business Park, about four miles south of the Aberdeen city limits. The mailing address, however, is 1501 Perryman Road, Aberdeen, Md., 21001.

A second, larger Rite Aid facility is in the 600 block of Chelsea Road, a mile or so south of the first. Its mailing address is also Aberdeen, 21001.

There is a post office in Perryman, which is between the two Rite Aid facilities; however, its ZIP code 21130 has a compact boundary around the post office and adjacent Michaelsville Road.

Aberdeen Police Department officers were the first to respond to the shooting, followed quickly by Harford Sheriff’s Office deputies, Maryland State Police troopers and other officers from other local, state and federal law enforcement agencies.

Slutzky pointed out that most of the Perryman area has the same ZIP code covering the City of Aberdeen and surrounding areas – 21001.

“Using the postal ZIP code was the only way [media] identified it with Aberdeen,” he said.

Slutzky said he had contacted organizations such as The Baltimore Sun, a sister publication of The Aegis, and WBAL-TV in Baltimore after learning they were reporting the location as Aberdeen.

He said The Sun did correct its reporting, but WBAL “did this over and over day after day assigning this horrific event to the city of Aberdeen and that’s unfortunate.”

A number of stories about the shooting on WBAL’s website from Sept. 20 and Sept. 21, as of Wednesday evening, identify Aberdeen as the location in their headlines, story description and datelines.

Tim Tunison, news director for WBAL, declined to comment Wednesday.

‘First responders for the soul’

Councilman Mike Perrone, who represents Joppa and Edgewood, expressed “deepest condolences” for the victims of the Rite Aid center shooting and “sincerest appreciation” for the first responders.

“But there’s another group of people who are worthy of our sincere appreciation as well,” he said. “They may not be the ones running into buildings to neutralize a threat or to treat the wounded, but they are most definitely on the front line of our recovery and healing efforts,”

Perrone referred to people such as members of the clergy and other faith leaders, mental health professionals, social workers, case workers and “everyone else who plays a role in helping to heal some of the emotional damage that takes place when tragedy rips through someone’s life.”

Perrone said the people he calls “first responders for the soul” are not often acknowledged for their efforts.

“Just as it takes a special kind of person to run into an environment that is under attack by an active shooter, it also takes a special kind of person to pour out the compassion that is needed to help someone else deal with the effect of trauma in their life,” Perrone said. “To everyone who was there during, after and long after, may God bless you and keep you in his care.”

Slutzky expressed his appreciation for Perrone’s sentiments, and Councilmen Patrick Vincenti and Curtis Beulah echoed Perrone’s words.

“That’s a wonderful sentiment,” Slutzky said. “I appreciate that, Mr. Perrone.”

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