Our executive editor gasped and took a step back.
“Did you see that?” she asked, as her hand instinctively drew up toward her heart.
She knew she was viewing video of a man being gunned down in a convenience store parking lot, but the sight of a TEC-9 semiautomatic pistol being drawn in broad daylight was stunning.
A surveillance camera had captured two men arguing, as women with two small children strolled by.
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It was just after 3:20 p.m. on a sunny Thursday in February, when students were on winter break in south Macon.
Kareem Mano stashed the large gun back in his waistband as he continued to have what appeared to be a heated discussion with De’Andre Malik Thomas.
Fifteen seconds later, Thomas pulled a pistol and fired at Mano, who turned and ran toward the gas pumps, where a woman sat in an SUV.
The 25-year-old Mano dropped dead on the other side of her car.
The day after the shooting, I did not know what I would see when the store manager said I could record his surveillance video.
The fatal feud could not have been positioned better for the camera if a cinematographer had been behind the lens.
After nearly 35 years as a journalist, I have covered dozens of homicides. Seeing one play out, even on video, is a different story.
Should we share it with our readers? That was the question newsroom veterans pondered.
For hours, editors and attorneys wrangled with that decision.
Someone had died, but no blood was visible. You see worse on television and in video games.
Mano dropped to the ground and took his last breaths, but that view was shielded by the SUV.
Could this in-your-face killing be a reality check for those who aren’t affected by crime outside their neighborhoods?
Many questions and much soul searching followed our viewing of the footage.
We thought to upload it privately, so journalists across our parent company, McClatchy, could weigh in.
The month before, precedent had been set when a sister publication posted police video of man being gunned down in Broward County, Florida.
While pondering whether to make the Macon video public, we didn’t realize it had already automatically published to our public YouTube channel as it was uploading into our internal system.
Hundreds of thousands of people had already viewed it before the decision was made to publish it on macon.com.
Even worse, other sites had already pirated it off YouTube, so the local homicide was playing on phones, tablets and computers across the globe.
For most viewers, it was likely their video thrill of the day before the next horrific crime played out on social media.
Through Facebook Live, people have witnessed brutal attacks in real time.
In each instance there is disgust and outrage, but it doesn’t appear to diminish the insatiable appetite for digital rubbernecking.
Nor do the startling images seem to have any effect on curbing violence. It might actually be fanning the flames.
Just this week, an innocent grandfather was gunned down by a reportedly troubled man in Cleveland, Ohio, who posted his quest for blood in live updates.
A Texas mother is in jail after her 1-year-old was repeatedly burned and abused on videos allegedly created as revenge against the boy’s father.
Haven’t we seen enough?