Stories

The IRE Resource Center is a major research library containing more than 27,000 investigative stories.

Most of our stories are not available for download but can be easily ordered by contacting the Resource Center directly at 573-882-3364 or rescntr@ire.org where a researcher can help you pinpoint what you need.

Search results for "mass" ...

  • The Henry Pratt Mass Shooting

    On the afternoon of Feb. 15, disgruntled warehouse employee Gary Martin opened fire during a termination hearing at the Henry Pratt Co. in Aurora, Ill., killing five people and wounding several police officers before being fatally shot by law enforcement. Before police publicly identified Martin, the Tribune learned his name from sources and began investigating his background. One thing quickly became clear: Martin, a convicted felon who had served prison time for attempting to kill his girlfriend, never should have been allowed to purchase the gun used in the shooting. This discovery – aided by carefully worded Freedom of Information Act requests, unparalleled sourcing and a review of extensive court records – prompted the Illinois State Police to disclose hundreds of pages of documents related to Martin’s firearms license and gun purchase within days of the shooting. It was an unprecedented release of information, in terms of both expediency and subject manner. Illinois law expressly prohibits the disclosure of records related to firearm owner’s identification cards or concealed carried permits, but Tribune reporters were able to convince law-enforcement officials that Martin’s firearms history should be exempt from such protections because he fraudulently obtained his license by lying on his permit application. Upon receiving this information, reporters submitted further FOIAs in an effort to understand the depths of the state’s problem. A reporting project that started within hours of a mass shooting grew into an investigation that found 34,000 Illinois had their gun permits revoked – and that the state has no idea what happen to their guns. That meant 78 percent of people stripped of their gun licenses failed to account for their weapons. The responsive records – some of which required difficult fights and keen sourcing to obtain - exposed serious flaws in the national databases relied upon to conduct criminal background checks, as well as the state’s failure to ensure that people surrender their weapons after their Firearm Owner's Identification cards are revoked. In an analysis of data released for the first time, the Tribune found as many as 30,000 guns may still be in possession of people deemed too dangerous to own firearms. The Tribune also was able to create an online-lookup that allowed readers to look up how many people in their town had their gun permits stripped, the reason for the revocation and how many times that person had made a serious inquiry about purchasing a gun.
  • Bribery Division

    The Bribery Division, an international investigation into Latin America’s largest construction company, reveals fresh evidence of hundreds of millions of dollars in suspicious payments linked to major infrastructure projects. Brazilian multinational Odebrecht has been implicated in a cash-for-contracts scandal that the U.S. Department of Justice has described as “the largest foreign bribery case in history.” The Bribery Division investigation unveils dramatic new information in taking readers inside the belly of the beast: Odebrecht’s Division of Structured Operations, a specialized unit created for the primary purpose of managing the company’s graft. A team of more than 50 journalists across the Americas, led by ICIJ, examined more than 13,000 Odebrecht documents from a secret communication platform used by the Structured Operations unit. The team’s sprawling expose revealed Odebrecht’s cash-for-contracts operation was even bigger than the company had acknowledged to prosecutors and had involved prominent figures and massive public works projects not mentioned in the criminal cases or other official inquiries to date.
  • Plunder and Patronage in the Heart of Central Asia

    “Plunder and Patronage in the Heart of Central Asia” exposes a massive outflow of dark money from Kyrgyzstan, one of the world’s poorest nations. Reporters revealed how, over the span of five years, more than $700 million were funnelled out of the country — and across the world — by a single man: a self-confessed money launderer named Aierken Saimaiti. Saimaiti was murdered during the course of the reporting. But before his death, he provided reporters with a trove of documents that enabled them to piece together where this money came from, how it was moved abroad, and where much of it ended up.
  • Unsolved: The Devil You Know

    The body of Fr. Alfred Kunz, his throat slit, was found on the floor of St. Michael School in Dane, Wisconsin, on March 4, 1998. Twenty years later, the murder remains unsolved. Kunz was a conservative cleric and exorcist who clung to the Latin Mass and preached of a vengeful God. Some believed his death was linked to his battle against evil. Others believed his all-too-human flaws were to blame. The murder has never been solved, largely because police spent decades going after the wrong man, teacher Brian Jackson, our investigation found. Police never impounded Jackson’s car or searched it for trace evidence. Within hours of the murder, he was able to drive it out of the school parking lot. One detective who worked on the case for years, Kevin Hughes, set his sights on Jackson and refused to glance in any other direction. Ten years ago, Hughes’ lieutenant told reporters police knew who the killer was, but that the district attorney wouldn’t charge him. Their attempts to build a case against Jackson rather than remaining open to other theories may have allowed valuable clues to go unnoticed, the sheriff acknowledged during Barton’s investigation that became Unsolved: The Devil You Know. After about two years, the investigation stalled. Continuity disappeared as the sheriff’s department assigned new detectives to the case every few years. Over the past two decades, five different people have served as lead investigator. The case file consists of thousands of pages — and counting — snapped into 40 three-ring binders. The sheriff can’t name anyone working for the department today who has read them all.
  • Citizen 865: The Hunt for Hitler’s Hidden Soldiers in America

    Through insider accounts, Justice Department documents and research in four countries, Citizen 865 chronicles the setbacks, failures and great successes of a small team of federal prosecutors and historians that spent decades working to expose a brutal group of Nazi war criminals living in the United States. In 1990, in a basement archive in Prague, two American historians made a startling discovery: a Nazi roster from 1945 that no Western investigator had ever seen. The long-forgotten document, containing more than 700 names, helped unravel the details behind the most lethal killing operation in World War Two. In the tiny Polish village of Trawniki, the SS set up a school for mass murder and then recruited a roving army of foot soldiers, 5,000 men strong, to help annihilate the Jewish population of occupied Poland. More than 1.7 million Jews were murdered in fewer than 20 months, the span of two Polish summers. After the war, some of these men vanished, making their way to the U.S. and blending into communities across America. Though they participated in some of the most unspeakable crimes of the Holocaust, “Trawniki Men” spent years hiding in plain sight, their secrets intact. In a story spanning seven decades, Citizen 865 details the wartime journeys of two Jewish orphans from occupied Poland who outran the men of Trawniki and settled in the United States, only to learn that some of their one-time captors had followed. A team of prosecutors and historians pursued these men and, up against the forces of time and political opposition, battled to the present day to remove them from U.S. soil.
  • Lessons Lost: How student churn holds back students and schools

    Erin Richards’ reporting launched a massive undertaking by a team at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel to obtain and analyze never-before-released state data that tracked student-by-student movement among Wisconsin schools. The data and reporting illustrated not only the extent of student churn in schools -- something that had never been comprehensively tracked through Wisconsin’s public and private schools that accept students on vouchers, and also not tracked nationally -- but also the causes and consequences through the stories of individual families and schools.
  • Silicon Valley’s Hidden Figures

    Silicon Valley has a big diversity problem. But no one has been able to comprehensively quantify it until now. Some of the multibillion-dollar companies that fuel the global economy have sought to hide how few women and people of color they have in their organizations, refusing to release the data, claiming the information is a trade secret. We built the largest and most comprehensive database of diversity employment data for Silicon Valley available. Through a groundbreaking collaboration with a University of Massachusetts Amherst sociologist, we got Equal Employment Opportunity Council (EEOC) data for 177 of the largest tech companies through public records requests and a successful FOIA lawsuit. Through this data, we uncovered disparities and ranked companies based on their diversity scores. By establishing a baseline of comparative data, we were able to hold companies accountable for their diversity hiring practices for the first time. Because of our analysis, the public now knows some of the worst companies when it comes to diversity in Silicon Valley. But we also found that diversity is not an impossible goal to achieve for technology companies: some are doing much better than their peers.
  • Aggression Detectors: The Unproven, Invasive Surveillance Technology Schools Are Using to Monitor Students

    In response to mass shootings, some schools and hospitals have been installing devices equipped with machine learning algorithms that purport to identify stressed and angry voices before violence erupts. Our analysis found this technology unreliable. Our goal was to reverse-engineer the algorithm, so we could see for ourselves if it actually worked as the company advertised. (One salesperson suggested to us that the device could prevent the next school shooting.) We purchased the device and rewired its programming so we could feed it any sound clip of our choosing. We then played gigabytes of sound files for the algorithm and measured its prediction for each. After this preliminary testing, we ran several real-world experiments to test where the algorithm could be flawed. We recorded the voices of high school students in real-world situations, collected the algorithm's predictions and analyzed them.
  • NPR/PBS Frontline/Ohio Valley ReSource: Coal's Deadly Dust

    Coal's Deadly Dust asked a fundamental question about an unprecedented epidemic of the advanced stage of black lung disease (Progressive Massive Fibrosis or PMF), among coal miners. How and why did this happen? How could it happen given a regulatory system designed to protect miners from the toxic dust that causes disease? The investigation documented the failure of federal regulators and the mining industry to protect coal miners from the epidemic of disease, despite clear evidence in federal data, clear evidence in mining practices, decades of recommendations to take action, and awareness of the danger.
  • KARE 11 Investigates: Double Billing the Badge - The Patrol Car Payback

    KARE 11's groundbreaking multi-year investigation "Double Billing the Badge - The Patrol Car Payback" exposed a complex scheme to overcharge hundreds of police agencies on thousands of squad cars. It led to a criminal conviction, reforms in state procurement policies, and a massive refund of taxpayer dollars.