More to the story: Inkerman home invasion situation clarified


In the newspaper business, reliance on social media for facts can be very irresponsible. On the other hand, social media is now commonly where communities talk. In the era of online shopping and automation, there are fewer and fewer opportunities to see neighbours out in the community. News stories will therefore often first come to light on social media, but facts still need to be investigated the old fashioned way. 

In the September 7 issue of the Times, I reported that an alleged Inkerman home invasion which was posted about on social media did not actually occur. It didn’t take long for someone involved in the scary situation that night to reach out to me, insisting that there was indeed a home invasion. What exactly happened? There are two sides to every story, but usually not this contradictory. 

In doing what I thought was most responsible by going right to a trustworthy source, I contacted OPP Officer Serge Duguay, who is a designated media contact for the SD&G OPP. The response was very clear, as reported on September 7: “I can confirm that officers responded to a residence in Inkerman, but not for a home invasion. Two parties were in medical distress.”

Knowing that Officer Duguay checked the police reports for the night in question as he always does, I was faced with a challenge. I now had official confirmation that there was no home invasion. How to soften the blow when reporting the facts? How to explain the mindset of how information spreads online and in small communities without pointing fingers? I provided a light hearted explanation and an analogy, informed by my work as both a counsellor and an educator. Now I wish I hadn’t added that blow-softening information, because it made the blow much worse. 

There was a situation in Inkerman on August 30, that much was always clear. No one involved in the situation wishes to go into detail about it, but I had a rather lengthy phone conversation with Officer Duguay to clear up the confusion. He was able to give me more facts, after reading that night’s police report more closely. 

There were two parties in medical distress, as reported on September 7. One individual was experiencing an emergency, and the other, in a state of mental distress and panic, forced entry into a neighbouring residence. The police investigation determined that the forced entry occurred in the context of duress, since the individual was seeking help for the other affected party. No charges were laid in the incident, and Officer Duguay innocently overlooked the detail of the forced entry when he came across the report of the two parties in medical distress that night. The medical distress situation is therefore what he told me about, and it is what I reported. 

It’s safe to say that there is a disagreement between the police and those involved in the incident about whether the forced entry was a crime. It’s also clear that the incident caused a lot of hurt and hardship. I was very eager to print a story to give Times readers an update on the Inkerman situation before deadline, and in my haste, I erred in not questioning the discord between the online chatter, and the official OPP response. My bigger mistake, however, was the tone of my article. “Condescending”, as I have heard from more than one reader, and in the hindsight of what really happened on August 30, I don’t disagree. 

I’m truly sorry for the hurt caused by my September 7 article. While it was true that there may not have been a home invasion in the eyes of the OPP, there certainly was in the eyes of those who were there. I am committed to being more persistent in my future investigating, as is the job of any reporter. As in my previous article on this matter, I’ll end with the most important message of all: I extend my sincerest well wishes to all those involved in the situation in Inkerman on August 30. 




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