Just over 30 minutes before ABC News announced that Jeffrey Epstein had allegedly taken his own life in his New York City jail cell, a post on 4chan announced the wealthy financier’s death. Now, according to Buzzfeed News, investigators are looking into whether or not a first responder in the incident posted about Epstein’s suicide alongside an image of Pepe the frog, the mascot for far-right internet trolls.
“[D]ont ask me how I know, but Epstein died an hour ago from hanging, cardiac arrest. Screencap this,” the post read.
The thread’s followers questioned the accuracy of the message, saying that they didn’t believe the information was accurate and asking for more details. The original poster complied, offering up detailed information on how emergency responders attempted to revive Epstein. Buzzfeed suggests that this means the poster could have been a first responder or someone else who was present for the events.
The message was originally posted at 8:16 a.m., 38 minutes before Aaron Katersky with ABC News broke the story at 8:54 a.m., followed by a post by ABC’s main account five minutes later.
If the person who revealed Epstein’s death on 4chan is an emergency responder, the post could constitute a violation of HIPAA, the federal law that governs the release of patient information.
Dr. Keith Wesley reviewed the post and said that the information provided was emergency protocol and that it could have been posted by anyone who witnessed the scene, including emergency responders. Part of the post detailed “telemetry advised bicarb,” which could indicate that EMTs were attempting to communicate with the hospital about Epstein’s condition.
“This sounds like standard American Heart Association guidelines, which most EMS agencies use,” Dr. Wesley said.
“If one of the medics posted this separately that’s a breach of protocol,” he added. “If there was identifying information on the patient, that is a violation of Federal HIPPA law.”
Someone broke the news of Jeffrey Epstein's death on 4chan 40 minutes before it was announced publicly. FDNY is investigating whether a first responder posted it https://t.co/uAPkbcG9Jt
— Lachlan Markay (@lachlan) August 13, 2019
The FDNY is reportedly reviewing the situation and plans to take action if necessary.
“The department will review this incident,” Frank Dwyer, a Deputy Commissioner for FDNY, said.
Another spokesperson for the FDNY said that the department “is reviewing this incident, there is no investigation.”
An Emergency Medical Technician, Oren Barzilay, who represents Local 2507 in New York, assured Buzzfeed that “our members do not release this type of confidential information, this looks like a 3rd party info.”
“There’s serious consequences for those violations. Discipline. Suspensions. Civil penalties, etc,” Barzilay said.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741. For readers outside the U.S., visit Suicide.org or Befrienders Worldwide for international resources you can use to find help.