SWFL reacts to controversial assassination photo
FORT MYERS, Fla. – A photo that shows a gunman standing over the body of the Russian ambassador he’d just shot and killed has stirred debate about the appropriateness of graphic images in the media.
Some find the stunning depiction of the assassination offensive, while others see it as a vital storytelling element.
Andrew West, an award-wining photojournalist for The News-Press, said it’s important for people to see photos that challenge their senses, like the one of the killing of Ambassador Andrei Karlov in Ankara, Turkey.
“When stuff happens in front of you like that as a photog and you’re there to capture it, I think it’s really important for people to witness that sort of thing to get an understanding of what’s going on in the world, and that these things do occur,” West said.
Lee County resident Chrissy White would rather not see those sorts of images, but social media makes it hard to avoid them, she said.
“You’re scrolling through and see that on Facebook, on the news. It’s very disturbing,” she said.
Others, like Gareth Johnson, said they appreciate the impact of the jarring photo, which shows Karlov’s body splayed on the ground.
“The world does need to see that this stuff is happening, and sometimes the only way to get through to people is to show the extremes of one side or the other,” Johnson said.
The photographer who captured the moment, Burhan Ozbilici of The Associated Press, said he hoped to deter the gunman.
“Maybe I can explain [to] him ‘Stop. Do not shoot more. Do not kill anymore and please you cannot run away, I recorded you,'” Ozbilici said.
The gunman, identified as 22-year-old Mevlut Mert Altintas, was shot by police. Authorities believe he was disgruntled by Russia’s involvement in Syria’s civil war.
Here’s how people reacted on the WINK News Facebook page: