A video was released by the Philadelphia Police Department earlier this week that showed a group of 15 well-dressed young men and women walking close to where they allegedly attacked two young gay men minutes later — putting one of the victims into the hospital with multiple facial fractures and a wired jaw, reported The Daily Kos.
Fortunately, the video was successful in identifying the attackers through a Twitter-based amateur investigation. Greg Bennett, who was a cast member of The Real Housewives of New Jersey, retweeted the key photo after it was sent to him by an undisclosed source. The image shows the gay bashing mob eating dinner soon before the attack. Other Twitter users quickly identified the establishment as La Viola, which is only 500 feet away from where the violence took place.
The gay bashing mob didn’t seem to think through their crime very well. Many of the users checked in and tagged themselves in the photo that surfaced. Police were easily led to the attackers, and several of them have already contacted lawyers.
Social media was, of course, unforgiving of the foolish mistake that made the group so easily identifiable. FanSince09, the user who made the essential connection, has been drowning in interview requests and is nearing 10,000 followers.
If you're going to gay bash don't fill your FB profile with gay slurs and also delete that resturant check in from earlier— FanSince09 (@FanSince09) September 17, 2014
The story is an awful thing happened and enough people wouldn't tolerate it and did something about it— FanSince09 (@FanSince09) September 17, 2014
Philadelphia police officers may be slightly hesitant to act on the new information, especially in the wake of other disastrous internet vigilante justice like the false identification of the Boston bombers. However, Officer Joe Murray tweeted his gratitude to those who were able to identify the alleged attackers, despite assuring that arrests are yet to be made.
S/O to @FanSince09 This is what makes my job easy. Sure, it's up to me to make the arrest but we are all in this together.— Joseph Murray (@PPDJoeMurray) September 17, 2014
This is how Twitter is supposed to work for cops. I will take a couple thousand Twitter detectives over any one real detective any day.— Joseph Murray (@PPDJoeMurray) September 17, 2014
Let's be clear here. No arrests made. Central Detectives have done a ton of work and have a lot more to do. (Not a law & order episode)— Joseph Murray (@PPDJoeMurray) September 17, 2014
A diary account posted by The Daily Kos when the attack occurred aggregated the available accounts of the witnesses and victims.
“Witnesses say someone in the group asked, ‘Is this your fucking boyfriend?’ When one of the victims told them yes, the group allegedly attacked them, punching and kicking them in the face, head and chest. Police say one of the suspects then snatched a victim’s bag containing a cellphone, wallet and credit cards. The group then fled in an unknown direction. ‘It was a bunch of screams at first,’ said witness Geoff Nagle, ‘[and] a lot of punching and kicking.” Another witness, who asked to remain anonymous, says he heard the group screaming homophobic slurs.”
[Image via PPD]