A teenager posted nonpublic information about a 2012 shooting on his Twitter feed, which was later posted to an Instagram account that’s come under fire for revealing information about witnesses to crimes in Philadelphia.
The 17-year-old was arrested and charged with “intimidation and terroristic threats," police spokeswoman Officer Tanya Little said Wednesday.
Authorities are also investigating how an Instagram account titled “rats215”came to feature affidavits and photos of victims and witnesses in criminal cases.
Police are investigating if there is a connection between the teenager’s Twitter account and “rats215,” which is a reference to Philadelphia’s area code.
“There was a lot of information there … a lot of information that was not for public viewing,” Little said.
More than 30 witnesses were identified on the Instagram account since February, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, while 150 photos have been posted. The account has nearly 7,900 followers and drawn dozens of “likes” and comments.
The investigation is ongoing and the teenager is not accused of owning the Instagram account.
Tasha Jamerson, spokeswoman for the District Attorney’s office, said witness intimidation a serious problem in Philadelphia.
“We work with Philadelphia Police to investigate vigorously and thoroughly any attempt to intimidate any witness, to identify perpetrators and where appropriate, arrest and prosecute,” she said. People are arrested in the city’s criminal courts building for taking photos of witnesses, victims’ families or judges on a daily basis, she added.
An officer in Southwest Philadelphia’s 12th District discovered “rats215” last week. The account has since been deactivated.
“Post some new rats,” one commenter on the Instagram wrote in September. “I needa put a hit out on them.”