Social media users help ID suspects in Philadelphia gay-bashing attack, police say

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014
VIDEO: Up to 12 suspects sought in Center City hate crime
Philadelphia police say as many as 12 suspects are being sought for an assault in Center City that is being characterized as a hate crime.

CENTER CITY -- Police say social media users have provided a key assist in efforts to track down a dozen suspects in a brutal assault on two gay men in Center City Philadelphia.

Action News has learned attorneys for several members of a group caught on camera the night of the attack have now called police.

Those attorneys were making arrangements to bring their clients in for questioning on Wednesday.

Police are crediting surveillance video released after the incident and subsequent social media sleuthing by Twitter users, including one known as fansince09, for helping propel the investigation forward.


The attack happened at 10:45 p.m. on Thursday, September 11th near Rittenhouse Square.

Investigators say the victims, a 28-year-old man and a 27-year-old man, were in the 1600 block of Chancellor Street when police say they were approached by a group of 'unknown males and females.'


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The group approached and, according to police, 'made disparaging remarks about their sexual orientation.'

The group then pounced, with some of the suspects holding the victims while others punched them in the face, head and chest.

One of the victims dropped a bag containing a cell phone, wallet and credit cards.

As police approached the scene, investigators say one of the suspects picked up the bag and the group fled.

Both victims were taken to the hospital with multiple injuries. Police say one victim was treated for fractures and deep lacerations to his face requiring surgery. His jaw has been wired shut.


The case has outraged the community, and it ignited social media.

Hours after authorities released surveillance video, Twitter users were credited by Philadelphia Police for searching online for the identities of people from a group seen in the video.

Twitter user fansince09 told Action News he was disgusted by the attack. Apparently many of his followers were, too, and they joined in the effort.

Fansince09 tweeted the video to his thousands of followers, and soon re-tweeted a picture apparently taken of this group at a nearby restaurant.

He looked on Facebook to see who had checked into that restaurant, and started clicking links, matching pictures to the video.

His effort resulted in a picture of a large party dining at a Center City restaurant. Police sources say that photograph is now part of the investigation.

Fansince09 got a shout-out on Twitter from police for his detective work.


Philadelphia police describe the suspects as "a group of approximately 10-12 white male and females all in their early 20's, clean-cut and well-dressed."

One suspect is described as having a husky build, brown hair, wearing a brown shirt and shorts.

Anyone with information was being asked to contact Philadelphia Police at 215.686.TIPS (8477), text a tip to PPD TIP or 773847 or visit

Action News has learned the restaurant Pennsylvania 6 at 12th and Sansom Streets has put up $10,000 for information leading to the suspects.

"Probably the first thing I thought about was it could have been anyone of my friends or family members, and the company that we work for, we have a lot of people who represent the community," Tim Adams of Pennsylvania 6 said.

The Citizens Crime Commission is also offering a $1,000 reward.

The victims, reoovering at the hospital, expressed gratitude for all the efforts to track down their attackers.

"The boys are just really happy that there is clear footage," said Caryn Kunkle, a longtime friend of the victims. "And they just keep repeating that they want justice done, not just for them, but so that it never happens again in Philadelphia."