Social media used to find suspects in Philadelphia attack

A Catholic high school coach has resigned after he and a number of former students from the same school became persons of interests in an attack on a gay couple in Philadelphia.

On the night of September 11, 2014, two men approached by a group of some 10-12 men and women.  Members of the group began shouting gay slurs at the men and attacked them. Some held down the victims while others attacked them.  In the melee, one of the men was also robbed of his personal belongings.  In the end, both victims were hospitalized, with one of the men receiving a broken orbital socket and requiring his jaw to be wired shut.

Unbeknownst to the group, video surveillance captured the attack.  Police, seeking tips, released the video and, immediately, social media sleuths went to work.  One individual, known on Twitter as fansince09 posted the video to his account, asking for help identifying the suspects.  Picture came pouring in and the group was tracked to nearby restaurant.  Using Facebook, fansince09 was able to identify members of this group who had used the platform’s check-in feature to indicate they were dining there.

The names of the coach and the other suspects have not been released as the police have not yet formally charged anyone in relation to the crime.  However, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia has released a statement that seems to acknowledge that it expects some of its former students are implicated:

“Earlier today, Archbishop Wood High School became aware that some of its former students were allegedly involved in the assault of two men in Center City last week. This afternoon, administrators communicated with the entire Archbishop Wood school community to make it emphatically clear that the school does not, under any circumstances, tolerate or condone the violent and hateful behavior displayed by those who took part in this senseless attack.

Administration also stressed that Catholic schools are centers of learning where students are expected to treat each other in a Christ-like manner at all times and that everyone deserves to be treated with respect and dignity. The actions of those who took part in the attack are reprehensible and entirely unacceptable. They are not an accurate reflection of our Catholic values or of Archbishop Wood High School.”

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