Exponent Telegram Reflects on Newspaper Carrier Safety - WBOY.com: Clarksburg, Morgantown: News, Sports, Weather

Exponent Telegram Reflects on Newspaper Carrier Safety

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CLARKSBURG -

The shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut and the Century Movie Theatre in Colorado generated nationwide debate over gun control and mental health care.

But a shooting that took the lives of two innocent bystanders in Clarksburg on Friday July, 26 has people talking locally, too.

One of the biggest concerns is the drug presence in the community and how law enforcement is handling the issue.

But a newspaper is also in mourning and reflecting on what it could and couldn't have done to keep a father-son delivery duo alive.

Fred and Freddy Swiger worked for the Exponent Telegram in Clarksburg for more than 30 years when they were shot and killed in the middle of their daily route.

"She heard the gunshots and she was like 'this is the time my paper is supposed to be here.'  She was already awake they kind of rattled her awake. She is an older lady and she was like 'this is the time.' She walked out and saw it there, " said Brian Jarvis, president and owner of the Exponent Telegram.

While most people would describe it as being in the wrong place at the wrong time, Jarvis paints a different picture.

"Really, they were in the right place at the right time. That's where they should have been. That's where they have been every night for years. It was the drug dealers who were at the wrong place at the wrong time," Jarvis said.

In 2002, the Exponent Telegram got rid of its youth carriers and most of its foot carriers.

But the Swigers kept doing things the way they always did.

"They've being doing it together on foot for 30 years. That's the way they liked to do it, they didn't have a car," Jarvis said.

Jarvis said they never showed any concerns about their route, but he doesn't doubt there was suspicious activity going on.

"In that neighborhood, I'm sure they had at some time in the morning," Jarvis said.

Jarvis spent time asking himself if there was more he could have done to protect the Swigers.

"What can you really do to prevent something like that? You cant. I kept thinking 'is there some safety measure I could have put in place to prevent that?' and there isn't, there isn't anything," Jarvis said.

The paper's carriers are independently contracted, which means the paper doesn't provide them with vehicles or equipment. Jarvis said the paper encourages carriers to avoid dangerous situations and to call for help if danger arises.

While the paper does not provide specific safety measures, Jarvis said the carriers are neither prohibited or required to carry a weapon with them at work.

Jarvis said the entire staff is in mourning and shock, and the incident did have an effect on some of the carriers.

"A few carriers didn't show up that evening. They did come back now.  I think they were spooked, but they are all back now," Jarvis said.

The Exponent Telegram has set up a donation box at its office to help support the Swiger family and their funeral travels.