A group of hate crime suspects turned themselves in Wednesday to Philadelphia police after social media sites, in conjunction with video released by police, identified multiple suspects in a Sept. 11 brutal beatdown of two gay men. The unprompted attack left the male couple in their 20s with eye socket and jaw fractures.
The Philadelphia District Attorney’s office said three people – 24-year-olds Philip William and Kathryn Knott, and 26-year-old Kevin Harrigan – voluntarily turned themselves over to authorities while accompanied by their attorneys.
On Sept. 18, we brought you this story:
Social media, gay couple beating inquiry: Twitter gumshoes track suspects
Over a dozen individuals were reportedly involved in the beating that occurred near the 1600 block of Chancellor Street in Philadelphia – an area of the city colloquially known as the “gayborhood.” Thus far, three have turned themselves in. It’s unclear if police are looking to charge additional suspects.
Writes The Associated Press, via MSN News: “Police searching for a group of people suspected in the beating of a gay couple got an outpouring of help from Twitter and Facebook users, who located a photo of the clean-cut young men and women at a restaurant and helped match names to faces.”
The Philadelphia Police Department said the large group accosted the men, tossed out disparaging remarks about their sexual orientation and then started punching them. Police were called to the scene, and the cluster took off, stealing one of the men’s bags in the process.
One of the victims, whose names were not released, reported on the attack. He said the group approached them, asking, “’What is this your f’ing boyfriend?’ And I said ‘yes this is my f’ing boyfriend.’ Three guys just started pummeling me and knocked me to the ground.”
Social media sleuths quickly got to work after police released the video, taking to Twitter to find pictures of the group on social media, identify the restaurant they ate at, and then, since the restaurant had tossed that night’s reservation shoot, using the restaurant’s own Facebook page to see who had “checked in” there. They then cross referenced names and faces.
Writes Gawker: “One member of the group who was not charged, an assistant basketball coach at the Archbishop Wood Catholic school, has since resigned from his job.”
The three suspects, all from Bucks County, will be charged with two counts of aggravated and simple assault, two counts of reckless endangerment and one count of criminal conspiracy, the DA’s office said.
Philly.com added: “The case cannot be prosecuted as a hate crime because no such protection exists in Pennsylvania. It has spurred a widespread outcry for changes to the state’s hate-crimes statute to include crimes motivated by sexual orientation, including calls to do so by legislators and local leaders including Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey.”