John M. Becker

Philly Gay-Bashing Suspects Surrender After Being ID'd on Twitter

Filed By John M. Becker | September 17, 2014 10:45 AM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: anti-gay attack, citizen sleuths, crime-solving, hate crime, Philadelphia, social media

philadelphia-hate-crime.pngA group of men and women who violently attacked a gay couple in downtown Philadelphia last week were quickly identified after police released video of the suspects last night and it spread like wildfire over social media.

NBC 10 reports on the crime:

Sources tell NBC10 the 27-year-old and 28-year-old victims were walking from a restaurant in the area of 16th and Chancellor around 10:45 p.m. Thursday. Suddenly they were approached by a visibly intoxicated group of two men and six women. Witnesses say someone in the group asked, "Is this your f****** 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. "...a lot of punching and kicking." Another witness, who asked to remain anonymous, says he heard the group screaming homophobic slurs. "It was surprising that it happened in front of me, I never witnessed a hate crime based on that," the witness said.

Both members of the couple -- who've been together for ten years -- were hospitalized. One was subsequently released; the other sustained shattered cheekbones and a fractured jaw, and underwent surgery.

Last night, police released the following surveillance video of the hate crime suspects:

Philadelphia magazine reports what happened next:

Within hours, former Real Housewives of New Jersey castmate Greg Bennett tweeted this photo that he claims -- because of similarities in clothing -- includes some of the alleged suspects in the hate crime that happened on Thursday in Center City.

Not long after, police were contacted by lawyers for the suspects. 6ABC reports: "Late Tuesday night, Action News has learned attorneys for some members of the group have called police. They are making arrangements to bring their clients in for questioning on Wednesday."..

And Twitter user @FanSince09 -- credited with determining that the group in the picture had eaten at Italian restaurant La Viola, and using Facebook check-ins to determine the identities of those who dined at the restaurant that night -- quickly became a celebrity: He tweeted overnight that he was being asked to appear on morning news shows today.

Philly police officer Joe Murray credited @FanSince09 with helping to crack the case. For his part, @FanSince09 has pledged that if he receives the $10,000 reward that's been promised for information leading to the suspects' capture, he will donate half of it to LGBT charities.

Pretty cool, huh?

A Storify timeline from Philadelphia native and NPR social media guru Melody Kramer, tracking the way the case was solved through Twitter, is after the jump, along with @FanSince09's appearance on Fox 29 this morning.

Fox 29 Interview


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