Chris Ingalls, investigative reporter at KING 5, is the recipient of the 2020 Don Bolles Medal from IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors). The medal recognizes investigative journalists who have exhibited extraordinary courage in standing up against intimidation or efforts to suppress the truth about matters of public importance. This year’s recipients, Ingalls and three other reporters from across the country, were all intimidated and threatened by extremist groups in retaliation for their reporting. This is the first year that American journalists have been recognized with the medal.
“This is a terrible reminder of the depths of hate in some corners of our country. It’s an honor to stand with three other journalists to expose this truth,” said Ingalls upon receiving the award. “I’m enormously grateful to the law officers who worked this case and have charged several leaders of the Atomwaffen Division.”
Ingalls’ investigation into Atomwaffen (German for “atomic weapon”) began in October 2019 when the FBI used Washington’s red flag law to seize guns from suspected leader Kaleb Cole in Arlington. The small but extreme organization seeks inspiration from Adolph Hitler and Charles Manson, who ordered mass murders to attempt to trigger a race war. After reporting several other stories about Atomwaffen, the FBI came to Ingalls in February 2020 with evidence that he was being targeted by the group. Later that month, the FBI and Seattle police participated in a round-up of four Atomwaffen members (in Texas, Florida, Colorado and the Seattle area) and charged them with threatening three of the four journalists recognized with the medal, as well as other Jewish and minority groups.
“It’s a privilege to have a journalist like Chris Ingalls on our team,” said KING 5 news director Pete Saiers. “His dedication, passion and relentless search for the truth, even in the face of personal danger, is inspiring to me and everyone at our station.”
The Don Bolles Medal recognizes investigative journalists who have exhibited extraordinary courage in standing up against intimidation or efforts to suppress the truth about matters of public importance. Established in 2017, the medal was created in conjunction with the 40th anniversary of the Arizona Project, an effort led by IRE to finish the work of Don Bolles, an Arizona Republic investigative reporter killed in 1976 by a car bomb while investigating allegations of land fraud involving prominent politicians and individuals with ties to organized crime. His death came a few days before the first national IRE conference in Indianapolis, where the veteran reporter had been scheduled to speak on a panel. Following his murder, nearly 40 journalists from across the country completed his investigation in Arizona, seeing their work published by news organizations across the country. Investigative Reporters and Editors is a grassroots nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of investigative reporting.