Another glaring error by the Dallas Morning News
On Sunday, June 20, the Dallas Morning News published an article entitled "GP officer's killer had terminal cancer" link. The first sentence reads, "The cancer had spread through his lungs and back, and doctors told him he wouldn't live past March. In the end, retired Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer Timothy "T.J." Irwin used pain pills to get through the day, family and friends said." The article ran on the front page of the Metro section (section B.)
The only problem is, the man who killed a Grand Prairie police officer, Timothy Irwin, did not have terminal cancer. We learned that today when the Grand Prairie police announced the results of his autopsy. So were the "family and friends" lying? Did Mr. Irwin lie to his family and friends? Or did the Dallas Morning News simply extrapolate the conclusion from a statement the killer made to his family?
The story has a very odd sequence of statements:
"He was in so much pain at the end; I don't think he wanted to suffer anymore," said his father, Ed Irwin, a veteran of the U.S. Army and Air Force.
Was this pain caused by something psychological that lead to the fatal shootout? It certainly wasn't cancer.
"We're just sorry that officer was killed," said Ruby Irwin, his mother.
On Wednesday, T.J. Irwin, 42, told his parents he would never see them again and left in the van he had borrowed months ago in New Mexico from his former brother-in-law.
"He had us under the illusion that he was going to look for a job in another state," the elder Mr. Irwin said.
If T.J. was dying of terminal cancer, as the News quotes his father saying, then why did the father say he thought his son was "going to look for a job in another state"? Shouldn't that have alerted the reporter to dig further? Shouldn't it have raised suspicion? (In hindsight, his telling his parents he would never see them again was because he knew what he was about to do, not because he was dying of cancer.)
Further fueling suspicion that the News simply got it wrong (or made it up) is another false statement in the story.
"After the shootout and six-hour standoff ended that afternoon, officers found Mr. Irwin in the van, apparently shot to death by Officer Seix. The suspect may have been dead for hours, authorities said."
The Associated Press carried the story as well link. It reads, in part, "When officers entered, they found the man dead inside. Brimmer said he appeared to have been wounded by one of the shots fired by Seix." This explains where the News reporter got the idea that Irwin was killed by the police, but the reporter is jumping to conclusions from the speculative statement of an officer that Irwin "may" have been wounded by Officer Seix and stating that the officer's bullet "apparently" killed him as fact. However, the AP story ran on Friday, June 18. The News story ran on Sunday, June 20. The reporter had at least 36 additional hours to get the story right before going to press.
Today we also learned that Mr. Irwin killed himself.
One has to begin wondering if the Dallas Morning News does any fact checking at all before "reporting" a story.
READERS NOTE: As of this evening, the local press is still reporting that Irwin was killed by Officer Seiz. I called the Grand Prairie PD, but I was unable to contact anyone in the department that could definitively answer the controversy. Since Officer Hunter's funeral is tomorrow, I was told to call back on Thursday and talk to "CID" (presumably Criminal Investigations Division) to get an official answer.