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Charleston shooting suspect’s Burger King meal gets national attention

Staff reports

tsumlin@charlotteobserver.com

A fact in a Charlotte Observer story – that Shelby police bought the Charleston shooting suspect Burger King – is gaining national attention. The story about Dylann Roof’s arrest remains in the top spot on charlotteobserver.com, five days after it was posted.

Mashable, for example, tweeted this morning to this story headlined: “Cops bought Charleston shooting suspect Burger King after arrest.”

Other news sources that have picked up on the Burger King fact and used it in headlines include Fox 8 of Cleveland, New York Daily News, the Daily Mail, and the Huffington Post.

The Observer story cited Police Chief Jeff Ledford about the capture. He said Shelby police deferred to FBI and S.C. officials and did not interrogate Roof about the church shooting.

The Burger King meal prompted outrage from some in online comments.

“Meanwhile, protesters arrested in Baltimore had to endure horrid conditions hours on end. I wonder why that was...,” one person posted on Huffington Post.

Others defended Shelby police: “I have family in Law Enforcement and they tell me that a hamburger will get you more information than anything else.”

Strickland Maddox, a pastor who had been working with Shelby’s police chief on building trust, offered this explanation to Yahoo! News: “He hadn’t eaten, they said, in a couple of days. … They bought him a hamburger. They just sent out for it. I guess one of the police officers went and picked it up.”

The fact in the Observer story is apparently getting overstated online. Mashable’s report originally said officers had driven Roof to Burger King.

Snopes.com, which checks out online rumors, even stepped in, calling it “false” that police took Roof to Burger King.

From the Snopes.com post: “While the original Charlotte Observer article’s mention of Burger King was fleeting and not well detailed, that sole description stated that police “bought” Roof food from Burger King, not that they “brought him to Burger King” (which conjured up a slightly unnerving scenario under which a suspected spree killer was essentially handled with kid gloves, taken out to mingle with patrons at the restaurant of his choice, and even perhaps gifted a paper crown).”

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