Oakland County sheriff slammed for telling reporters not to contact mass shooting victims

Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard is getting a quick lesson on the importance of the media and the First Amendment.

The Republican lawman took to Facebook and X on Sunday to tell the media to stop contacting victims of Saturday’s mass shooting that left nine people wounded at a splash pad in Rochester Hills.

“To anyone in the media that is attempting to contact the victims from yesterday shooting [SIC], please stop,” Bouchard wrote. “They are not wanting to talk at this time and do not appreciate the intrusion. We will let you know when/ if that changes.”

Reporters and others are admonishing the sheriff for telling journalists they shouldn’t do their jobs, pointing out that victims often do want to speak out and hold others accountable. A majority of the responses are negative.

“To those suggesting reporters are disgusting for even reaching out – we do respect when witnesses/victims/loved ones don’t want to talk,” Detroit Free Press reporter Darcie Moran responded on X. “But this is their story — it would be wrong to not give them the chance to tell it themselves, if that’s what they want. They’ve earned the right to be the ones heard in this moment. And that’s why we do it. It is part of our pursuit of getting the story right and fairly reporting it.”

Fellow Free Press reporter Dana Afana agreed.

“It’s our job as reporters to seek the truth and attempt to lend people their voices to open up if they wish. If they don’t want to, we’ll note that,” Afana responded. “But we have to at least try.”

Former journalist Ron Fournier told Bouchard to “stay in your lane.”

“Your job is to protect people, Sheriff,” Fournier wrote on X. “The media’s job is to tell folks what happened, and in the case of a mass shooting, the victims’ stories are essentially told. Many family members welcome the chance to share. Others don’t, and reporters respect them. ”

Political strategist Joe Spaulding suggested Bouchard’s message to the media was more nefarious.

“That’s not how the First Amendment works. You are not a bottleneck for information from the public,” Spaulding responded. “It’s looking more and more like there is some aspect of this you are willfully covering up for political purposes, Mike. That’s despicable. Be better. Or be replaced.”

Others accused Bouchard of hypocrisy, saying he politicized the shooting when he invited U.S. Rep. John James, a fellow Republican and gun rights supporter, to a press conference about the incident.

“Go shrill for traitor John James,” @timfris responded.

Bouchard, who served two terms as president of the Major County Sheriffs’ Association, has served as sheriff since 1999. He’s a former state senator and unsuccessfully ran for the U.S. Senate in 2006 and governor in 2010.

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