What To Know Today

Questioning the idea that news media coverage of mass killings creates a short-term contagion effect. High-profile mass shootings dominate the news for obvious reasons, and some have wondered whether wall-to-wall coverage of these events inspires more mass violence. In a new study published in Significance, five researchers led by James Alan Fox — a renowned criminologist and principal of a mass shootings database compiled by The Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University — tested that theory. They took 89 public mass shootings (four or more killed) between 2000 and 2018 that led to 694 total fatalities and plotted them alongside references to mass violence in media outlets across the United States. And while the correlation between mass violence events and media discussion of them was clear, the researchers did not find any evidence that the media coverage itself spurred more violence in the aftermath of an attack. “We find no evidence of contagion in mass shootings in terms of either self-excitation or cross-excitation from media coverage over a period of several weeks,” the authors write. Their takeaway: While they don’t rule out the possibility of a “long-term cumulative effect” of media coverage on mass shootings, they argue that policymakers should train their focus beyond scrutinizing a media-generated contagion effect. “Given their high-profile nature, mass public shootings tend to generate proposals for change on a variety of fronts,” the authors write. “Our findings suggest that, among the possible policy responses designed to limit the number or severity of such crime, restricting news coverage should not be paramount.” 

Ex-Air Force sergeant will change plea to guilty in Boogaloo killing of federal security guard. Steven Carrillo was charged with the May 2020 killing of Department of Homeland Security Officer Dave Underwood, which prosecutors say was inspired by Carrillo’s interactions with anti-government Boogaloo extremists. While Carrillo entered a plea of not guilty in July 2020, court records indicate he plans to revise that plea to guilty this Friday. He has also been charged with the murder of a Santa Cruz sheriff’s deputy a weekend after the Underwood shooting. He pleaded not guilty in that case. A growing Boogaloo charge list: At least 44 people across the U.S. linked to the Boogaloo movement have been charged for crimes, according to a tracker from George Washington University’s Program on Extremism.

Man who participated in Capitol insurrection while out on bail for attempted murder taken into federal custody. Matthew Jason Beddingfield was arrested more than 10 months after he was first identified by online investigators and charged with felonies, including assaulting officers and carrying a dangerous weapon on restricted grounds, according to a court filing. Beddingfield pleaded guilty to a lesser misdemeanor charge for the 2019 shooting and was on probation in the case when he was arrested this week.

Jury selection begins in trial for former officer involved in the Breonna Taylor shooting. Brett Hankison was fired from the Louisville Police for “wantonly and blindly” firing 10 shots into Taylor’s apartment during the March 2020 no-knock raid that killed her. He faces criminal charges after police accused him of shooting into a neighboring apartment. But as The Washington Post points out, his trial is cold comfort for many city residents still stung by the state’s decision not to charge any of the officers for Taylor’s death.

Data Point

$3.5 million — Connecticut’s proposed seed funding for a new violence and intervention program, paid for through the American Rescue Plan. It’s part of a broader $64 million public safety budget the state’s governor released on Monday. [Office of Governor Ned Lamont]