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“40 Bodies In Freezer” T-P Reporter Gets Fired

So what have we here, buried in a story in a very local paper, the Arkansas Leader (covering Lonoke, White and North Pulaski Counties):

People stranded at the convention center in New Orleans wait to be evacuated.

Death toll exaggerated

Leader staff writer

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Mikel Brooks is part of a two-man team putting a new roof on Yolly Seedtibood’s old Chopsticks restaurant in Jacksonville, but three months ago, the Searcy resident, an Arkansas National Guardsman, was falsely quoted as saying 30 or 40 people were killed at Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

A now discredited and fired reporter for the New Orleans Times-Picayune wrote a sizzling first-person account that included great drama, but apparently not much fact — a story that was picked up and repeated around the world by organizations including CNN.

But Specialist Brooks told The Leader on Monday that he saw only four bodies, and that’s what he told the reporter, and others in the Arkansas Guard’s 39th Infantry Brigade have backed him up.

“Brooks and several other Guardsmen said they had seen between 30 and 40 more bodies in the Convention Center’s freezer,” wrote reporter Brian Thevenot.

Not so, Brooks, a Bald Knob native, said Monday.

Brooks and his fellow Guards-men dropped onto the New Orleans Superdome parking garage Sept. 2 and moved the next day through high waters to help provide security during its evacuation, he recounted Monday evening.

We evacuated about 4,000 hurricane victims in school buses,” he said.

“We confiscated weapons, poured out liquor and provided security,” he continued. “When we first got there, it was like something out of a movie. Forty-five story skyscrapers with no windows, wading in water up to our bottoms …”

Members of his unit went to a nearby Walgreens to get medical supplies, including supplies for diabetics dropped in the Super-dome and the convention center.

“People were tired, hungry and scared. It was really chaotic. There was no law. Looting everywhere,” he said.

Brooks said it was hard to believe life could be like that in America. His unit patrolled in humvees, setting up checkpoints, and establishing martial law.

He said he still gets interview requests from national and international media.

Brooks, who has about a year of college at ASU-Beebe, will return to school, where he may seek a career in criminology.

His education has been interrupted by Guard stints in Egypt and Iraq, he said.

So the Times-Picayune reporter was fired? That's news to me.

I wonder why Mr. Thevenot felt it necessary to inflate the numbers and hype the story. Heaven knows, the DNC/MSM weren't doing that. (I kid.)

Regular readers will recall our skeptical treatment of the T-P’s story on the day.

By the way, how come the National Guardsmen could evacuate people in school buses and the city of New Orleans could not?

This article was posted by Steve on Wednesday, November 30th, 2005. Comments are currently closed.

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