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Nevada middle school shooter's name officially revealed

Sparks, Nev., officials confirm that it was seventh-grader Jose Reyes who killed a teacher and himself and wounded two students Monday. His identity was already widely known around town.

October 24, 2013|By Melanie Mason
  • Hundreds of people attend a candlelight vigil at Sparks Middle School in Sparks, Nev., for slain teacher Michael Landsberry and two students who were injured in a shooting Monday. The shooter, who killed himself after opening fire, has been identified as Jose Reyes, 12.
Hundreds of people attend a candlelight vigil at Sparks Middle School in… (Cathleen Allison / Associated…)

SPARKS, Nev. — After days of saying they could not release his name, Sparks city officials publicly identified the 12-year-old shooter who this week killed a math teacher and wounded two classmates at his middle school before turning the gun on himself.

Officials said the boy, who wielded a 9-millimeter Ruger semiautomatic pistol, was seventh-grader Jose Reyes.

Authorities had said their unorthodox decision not to release the name of the deceased suspect was meant to protect his family's privacy. But among Sparks' 90,000 residents, the shooter's identity was already widely known, originating from eyewitness accounts and the boy's friends and family.

Since Monday's shooting, his name has circulated widely through social media sites and the adolescent rumor mill, but without confirmation from officials it was omitted from most media accounts.

"It's obvious that the name's out there," Sparks Mayor Geno Martini acknowledged before the name was released. "But our obligation legally is not to release the name because there's an ongoing investigation."

Martini added: "I support my police chief and I support my city attorney. They're telling me, 'Legally, this is what we should do and we feel we're in the right here.' And I support them."

The Times had learned Reyes' identity through interviews with Sparks Middle School students and parents, but had withheld the name while awaiting official confirmation from officials or his family. One day after the shooting, the boy's aunt posted a photo of him on Facebook and other family members chimed in with their own messages of condolence and loss.

Univision News revealed the boy's name in broadcast and Web stories Wednesday. The Las Vegas Review-Journal published the name online Thursday. Officials finally released the name Thursday afternoon.

Officials had offered a number of reasons for their continued secrecy. Deputy Police Chief Tom Miller said Tuesday that his department would not release the name of the boy out of respect for his grieving family, which is cooperating with the investigation.

City Atty. Chet Adams said the police investigation had not generated any records that must be disclosed under the Nevada's public records law. He also said information about juveniles was exempt from disclosure requirements.

"Upon completion of the investigation, the information that can be legally released will be made available," Adams said in a statement Wednesday.

A Reno Gazette-Journal editorial Wednesday criticized the city's approach, saying the identity of the shooter is a "crucial fact."

"Without an official identification, our community must rely on gossip and child eyewitnesses in determining the shooter's identity," the editorial said. "This is wholly inappropriate."

Several news outlets, including The Times and the Gazette-Journal, had filed formal requests for the shooter's name to be disclosed.

Sparks Middle School students expressed ambivalence this week about the lack of official confirmation.

Brianna Lopez, an eighth-grader, said the city "should just say who he is."

Her friend, Axel Lopez, disagreed, saying the confirmation wouldn't make a difference.

"He's already dead," said Axel, who is in seventh grade. "What are you going to do, go to his family?"

"But people would like to know either way," Brianna countered. "He shot their children."">

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