A Portland man has been arrested for harassing the families of victims of the Aurora theater shooting.
Kevin Michael Purfield, 45, is accused of "e-mailing, calling and using social media to contact various family members of victims of the theater shooting," the Portland police say in a statement. "None of the contacts were threatening but were unwanted and annoying, and Purfield would often use vile language. "
This week's cover story, "Sticks and Stones," explains that victims have been harassed by other people, too.
The story profiles 23-year-old Carli Richards, who suffered gunshot wounds in the July 20 shooting at the Century 16 theater in Aurora. Since then, she's been bullied online by people who've called her a liar, an actor and a pawn in a government conspiracy to take away America's guns and to frame suspect James Holmes.
Richards has taken steps to protect herself, but she refuses to hide completely. To disappear "would mean they were somehow justified," she says of the harassers.
The Portland police department's press release about Purfield's arrest doesn't specify who he contacted or what he said. But prosecutors in the Holmes case have acknowledged that the kind of behavior with which Purfield is charged has been a problem. In February, they wrote in a court motion that victims were being harassed by "proponents of purported 'conspiracies,'" some of whom "have even gone so far as to...publicly post maps with the home addresses and phone numbers of victims on various social media sites."
Purfield's Facebook page features two Aurora theater shooting-related posts shared last week. One from April 4 references contacting the families of two of the twelve victims who died in the shooting. It says he spoke with one family member who said he "never saw" his sister's remains and another who said her daughter's coffin "was empty at her funeral." The post says the mother "cried on the phone and asked me 'where are they?'"
A followup post from April 6 adds a reference to two prominent Aurora-area figures, Police Chief Dan Oates and state Senator Morgan Carroll. Like the previous post, it accompanies links to USA Today articles about the theater shooting, complete with photos of Holmes. The second item reads, in part:
I informed Senate Majority Leader Morgan Carroll March 30th she said she left a message with Chief Dan Oates for a status update on the case. Morgan said I was the first person to inform her of this important information.
Purfield has been charged with five counts of telephonic harassment and one count of stalking. His bail is set at $10,000 and he's scheduled to be arraigned today.
Look below to see Purfield's booking photo, followed by the Portland police press release.
Portland Police press release:
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Today, Wednesday April 10, 2013, detectives from the Portland Police Bureau arrested 45-year-old Kevin Michael Purfield of Northeast Portland in connection with multiple harassing phone calls and contacts to families of shooting victims from the July 2012 mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado.
Portland Police detectives were contacted in late-February 2013 by the Aurora Police Department and asked to assist in an investigation into unwanted phone calls and contact by Kevin Purfield in Portland.
Purfield was reportedly e-mailing, calling and using social media to contact various family members of victims of the theater shooting. None of the contacts were threatening but were unwanted and annoying and Purfield would often use vile language.
Based on this information, detectives arrested Purfield without incident at Northeast 102nd Avenue and Halsey, near the Gateway Fred Meyer store.
Purfield was booked into the Multnomah County Jail on charges of Telephonic Harassment (5 counts) and Stalking (1 count). Stalking is a Class A Misdemeanor and Telephonic Harassment is a Class B Misdemeanor.
Bail is set at $10,000.
Purfield will be arraigned in Multnomah County court on Thursday April 11, 2013.
More from our Aurora Theater Shooting archives: "Fox News reporter Jana Winter not forced to testify today, ordered to come back in August."Follow me on Twitter @MelanieAsmar or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org