How One Twitter User Tracked Down Philadelphia Hate Crime Suspects All Through Social Media

Last week, a gay couple was walking in the Center City district of Philadelphia when they were approached by a group of about a dozen men and women—all white, well-dressed, and in their early 20s.

“What is this your fucking boyfriend?” said a man in the group.

“Yes this is my fucking boyfriend,” replied the 26-year-old man in the relationship.

That’s when the group started pummeling the couple, some yelling gay slurs, the couple told CBS 3 Eyewitness News. Police arrived on the scene afterward and took the two men to the hospital. Officers told the couple that so much blood was on the sidewalk, they thought someone had been shot. The 26-year-old man was left with a swollen black eye and a bruised face. His 28-year-old boyfriend suffered several fractured facial bones, and his jaw will have to be wired shut for eight weeks.

On Tuesday, the Philadelphia police posted a surveillance video of the suspects of the hate crime. This is where anonymous Twitter user FanSince09 comes in.

FanSince09 saw an image posted by a Twitter user named Greg Bennett that compares the people in the surveillance video to a picture of that group in a restaurant:

FanSince09 retweeted that photo, asking if anyone can identify the restaurant where the photo was taken. He then confirmed that it was a restaurant named La Viola. FanSince09 then began using Facebook to search who checked into La Viola on the night of the incident and identified the suspects. He then called the cops, who gave him a Twitter shout out:

Murray added, however, that no arrests have been made and detectives still have a lot of work to do.

Twitter detective FanSince09 reminded his followers that ultimately “the story isn’t me and the story isn’t Twitter putting pieces together.” He continued:

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.