The FBI potentially dropped the ball by letting media ransack the home of the San Bernardino shooters just two days after the massacre.
“They [the FBI] totally scrubbed it from head to toe, or it’s a major f–k up,” former NYPD police officer Bill Stanton told TheWrap about reporters from MSNBC, CNN and other outlets being allowed into the suspects’ home to comb through photos and documents.
Stanton, who worked for the NYPD and in private security for 25 years, said the combined strength and power of the U.S. government and law enforcement could have successfully stripped down the shooters’ home successfully in a day.
But it’s also possible the FBI erred by giving the all-clear signal to the landlord to allow media into the home too soon.
“It doesn’t make our services look efficient,” Stanton continued. “It reminded me of days in the Old West where there’d be a shooting and the whole town would go through and look.”
On Friday, the FBI defended what looked like a chaotic and shocking scene on TV, saying the home was no longer a crime scene and its owners were free to do what they wanted with the property.
“We did a very thorough search and took our time and completed it,” she said. “There are cases where we need to preserve a location, but that’s extremely rare,” Laura Eimiller, a spokeswoman for the FBI in Los Angeles, told Reuters.
As TheWrap reported, MSNBC came under heavy fire on social media for showing unblurred images of children and other potential family and friends of the shooters who may have had nothing to do with the grisly massacre.
Another former NYPD officer, Tom Ruskin, told TheWrap that the network’s decision was “irresponsible and disgusting,” suggesting those people showed on camera could be forced into hiding as a result of their images being broadcast publicly.
“They have potentially caused innocent people, people that may not be tied to this crime, the possibility of being harmed, and they have to go into hiding,” Ruskin said.
The network expressed regret for showing the images. “We regret that we briefly showed images of photographs and identification cards that should not have been aired without review,” a spokesperson said in a statement Friday.