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Instagram and Vine to the rescue in the case of the Lone Star stabber

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Earlier today, an assailant brandishing a sharp object went from building to building at Lone Star College, a Houston-area community college, on a stabbing rampage, harming at least 14 students. Various news reports describe the incident in full detail, but not as clear as this photo posted by a certain Instagram user, who by all accounts appears to have played a part in nabbing the perpetrator.

A man named Steven Maida (@cheesin365) posted the photo above depicting a curly-haired man in restraints. He included a message saying, “Fu*k this mothafu*ker stabbed 5 people.2 girls in the cheek. Everyone ran the other way I said fu*k that. Me and this kid got em,” [sic] and including the hashtags #lonestarstabbing #fu*kthiskid #copsaretooslow. The picture received over thousands of likes and hundreds of comments, congratulating him on his bravery. He posted the same photo on his Facebook Timeline, where it received over hundreds of shares.

Just in case he receives attention from doubters, Maida made sure to follow up his previous post with a self-portrait taken from what looks like the back of a police car.

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His tweets seem to corroborate his posts on his Instagram account related to the stabbing incident:

So – is it true?

The Lone Star College System posted an alert on their Facebook page confirming the stabbing incident. They reported the capture of one suspect, but believe that there may be another one at large.

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Eyewitness News quotes a student named James (not Maida) claiming he saw the suspect, dressed in black, emerge from the building at a run, and he gave chase ( the photo at top from Maida’s account shows the alleged stabber in black). Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia confirmed that they have apprehended the suspect – whose identity was not revealed but was described as a 21-year old white male, believed to be a student at the college – and taken him into custody. They no longer have reason to believe that there is more than one suspect. 

KHOU News was one of the first online outlets to reveal a front-facing picture of the suspect, along with raw video footage taken at the scene of the crime.

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The Houston Chronicle identifies a man named Demond Lago – arrested by campus police for trespassing minutes before the stabbing incident took place – who was present when authorities brought in the Lone Star Stabber. Lago asked the unnamed suspect if he did it when he was brought into custody, where Lago already was, and the suspect confirmed and said he was trying to go on a killing spree, but the blade broke. Chronicle’s report also mentions a Lone Star sophomore student Ryan Ballard as the one who tackled the suspect to the ground, aided by another student, yet unnamed.

To add to the confusion surrounding this incident, it seems there is another hero in the midst, according to Steven’s latest tweet:

So to recap, the first to come out with first-hand news of the suspect apprehension was Steven Maida, who then identified via Twitter “Erik bertrand, James and some other guy” (could “some other guy” be Ryan Ballard?) as the people who assisted him in tackling the culprit. The Atlantic Wire quoted Maida identifying James, but not the two other men.

Social media saves

The longer this unfortunate piece of news is in the Internet spotlight, the higher the number of people who assisted the apprehension seems to be getting – for now the hero count has stopped at four, Maida included. If there’s one thing that Maida’s posts did, it’s demonstrate how powerful a tool social media can be when used for information dissemination. Along with his photos and tweets, other students who were within the vicinity of the crime have posted Vine video clips, warning others to stay away from the area.

As to the question of legitimacy, it appears that Maida is telling the truth. With a little help from some other students (whose identities remain in various states of flux), he was able to nab the perpetrator – and then let the world of Instagram know. 

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