McLEAN, Va. — A week ago, Rollie Chance was working the phones, worried that some of his friends at the Washington Navy Yard may have been killed in a mass shooting there.
In the middle of that, he received a call that he thought was a prank: a news organization telling him that he had been identified as the shooter.
Chance’s name was reported Sept. 16 by two network news organizations as the shooter in an apparent mix-up involving his long-discarded Navy Yard identification badge. NBC reporters tweeted Chance’s name as the shooter, while CBS used Chance’s name in tweets and in a radio broadcast. Both networks retracted their reports within minutes of misidentifying him as the shooter.
Chance, a Stafford, Va., resident, has reluctantly spoken with reporters in recent days because he hopes getting stories out about the mix-up will crowd out archived versions of stories on the Internet that misidentify him as the Navy Yard shooter. He also said he wants to ensure that others don’t go through what he did.
On the day of the shooting, Chance also was dealing with the shootings on a personal level. He had worked at the Navy Yard for years, first as a U.S. Navy sailor and later as a civilian in engineering, specifically modernization and maintenance.
He knew one of the victims fairly well; their families met and spent time together at a Christmas party a few years back. Chance declined to identify the person, concerned that bringing the victim’s name into the public eye could cause the family pain.
Chance said he had not received a phone call from NBC or CBS.
The first call he received on the day of the shootings was from ABC, asking if he knew Rollie Chance had been identified as the Navy Yard shooter. Chance thought it was a bad joke. Still, he holds no ill will toward ABC or other news agencies that called trying to get the story straight and that withheld his name from publication.