A purported member of hacktivist collective Anonymous appears to have followed through on his threat to release the name of the police officer involved in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, which has sparked days of protest and heightened racial tensions.
There was no immediate confirmation that the name was correct and Newsweek is not publishing the name.
A representative of the group told The Huffington Post the group was in possession of the officer’s name as early as Wednesday, but wanted to wait to release it until it could either talk to witnesses or obtain confirmation from a second source.
Purported Anonymous member @TheAnonMessage reiterated again this morning that he had the officer’s name, but again said it was waiting until it was “absolutely sure.”
The group’s threat came after Ferguson Chief of Police Thomas Jackson reversed his position on Tuesday, saying he would not release the officer’s name because of threats the man had received online. Jackson had previously said he would release the officer’s name.
Update: St. Louis County police denied that the officer named by Anymous is employed by St. Louis County or Ferguson.
@TheAnonMessage Bryan Willman is not even an officer with Ferguson or St. Louis County PD. Do not release more info on this random citizen.— St. Louis County PD (@stlcountypd) August 14, 2014
Another member of Anonymous also claimed on Twitter that the person named by @TheAnonMessage may not be the officer responsible for killing Brown.
Lets finish this before @TheAnonMessage does. So, we had a conversation on IRC today on who could be the murderer. We got 2-4 names.— Anonymous (@Crypt0nymous) August 14, 2014
I warned @TheAnonMessage due op importance and public safety, lynch danger. He said if he would pick the wrong guy, he would blame it on— Anonymous (@Crypt0nymous) August 14, 2014
his source, an Anon on IRC. This Anon also agreed. Due my warnings that even I, someone who isn't really involved, got 2 names, he ignored.— Anonymous (@Crypt0nymous) August 14, 2014
So, what @TheAnonMessage is doing right now is playing poker with the life of people. And btw. he wasn't sure. It doesn't matter if he— Anonymous (@Crypt0nymous) August 14, 2014
is right or wrong at the end. This is not what Anonymous is about. Despite the fact that he shared almost immediatly a email for journos.— Anonymous (@Crypt0nymous) August 14, 2014
Correction: An earlier version of this article referred to Jon Belmar as the Ferguson Chief of Police. Belmar is Chief of Police of St. Louis County.