Decision to withhold Florida bank shooting victim names tests new law

Some victims unidentified by police, Marsy's law passed in 2018

Sebring Police Chief Karl Hoglund wipes his head as he listens to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speak during a news conference, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019, in Sebring, Fla., after authorities said five people were shot and killed at a SunTrust bank branch. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

SEBRING, Fla. – A Florida police chief's decision not to release the names of some of the five women killed in a bank shooting this week represents the first high-profile test of a new victims' privacy law on the books in several states.

The police chief in Sebring, Florida, declined to release some of the names of the slain women at the request of their families, citing a provision in the "Marsy's Law" amendment to the state constitution that voters approved in November. Florida's law specifically allows crime victims to prevent the disclosure of information that could be used to locate or harass them or their families.

But a First Amendment advocate says allowing crime victims to determine what information gets released to the public sets a dangerous precedent.

Three of the five women killed were not identified the day after shooting by Police Chief Karl Hoglund; however family members independently identified two more victims Thursday night.

Four of the victims were SunTrust bank employees and one was a customer.

One other person was inside the bank break room when the suspect entered but heard the shots and escaped through a back door.