The suspects in a violent gang assault on two gay men in Philadelphia have apparently been located by an anonymous Twitter sleuth from Jersey. The victims, who haven't been publicly identified, were walking in Center City around 10:45 p.m. on September 11 when they came face-to-face with a large, clean-cut-looking group of white men and women in their early 20s. Someone in the group asked if the men were "boyfriends," according to police, and made "disparaging remarks" about gay people before attacking the victims, kicking them in the head, chest and face. One of the men had to undergo surgery and have his jaw wired shut; the other suffered bone fractures and cuts to his face. As the group was fleeing the scene, one of them also stole a bag one of the victims had dropped on the ground.
Police released the above video of the group yesterday.
This next part is astonishing, in the best of ways. A Twitter user named Greg Bennett posted a photo of a group posing at a restaurant who look an awful lot like some of the suspects in the video:
Bennett tweeted that he'd gotten the photo from "a friend of a friend of a friend," but didn't know where it was taken. That's where another Twitter user stepped in: FanSince09, a diehard Eagles fan who apparently lives in South Jersey. Fan retweeted the photo; almost immediately, he got a torrent of responses from people telling him the restaurant was La Viola, an Italian place in Center City. He tweeted that he ID'd most of the people in the photo by checking their Facebook check-ins:
Then, he called the cops. They are, as you might imagine, pretty goddamn excited. Philadelphia police officer Joe Murray sent a series of tweets indicating that Fan had cracked the case:
He added, though, that no arrests have been made tonight:
Meanwhile, reporter Kenneth Moton at ABC 6 said at 11 p.m. that the news station had learned that some of the suspects — we don't know how many — have already retained lawyers, who were calling the police to make "arrangements," which sounds like a plan to surrender voluntarily, before warrants are issued for their arrest.
Fan tweeted that if he receives the $10,000 reward that's been promised for the capture of these suspects, he'd donate half to LGBT charities. He added: