Allegedly Alleged

I’m amused by cautionary phrasing of the sort seen in this WSJ article about the UC Santa Barbara shooter.

Mr. Rodger, who was identified Saturday night by Santa Barbara County sheriff’s officials as the alleged gunman, died in Friday’s rampage, possibly of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, investigators said.

Read literally, this means that the police said that Rodger was said to be the shooter. It’s not implausible that the police actually did describe him as the “alleged shooter.” But it’s no less likely that they said something to the effect of, “We believe he was the shooter,” i.e., they alleged┬áthat he was the shooter, which in this context has the same meaning as identified him as the shooter.

Whichever the case may be, everyone involved is worried about being sued.