Three suspects have been arrested in Gulfport Mississippi in connection with an alleged assault that was broadcast as it happened on Facebook Live. Tuesday night at 11:46 p.m. Gulfport Police responded to reports of an assault occurring on the 3100 block of 7th avenue. Officers arriving on the scene discovered that a woman had been physically and sexually assaulted while someone else recorded it on Facebook Live. Police investigated the video and issued arrest warrants.
Haleigh Alexis Hudson, 19, surrendered to police at 7 p.m. Wednesday night. She has been charged with felony kidnapping and sexual assault. Her bail is set at $400,000.
Ezzie Johnson, 17, was taken into custody at 8 p.m. Wednesday and charged with felony kidnapping. Gulfport Police Chief Leonard Papania said Johnson will be charged as an adult. His bond is at $200,000.
A third suspect, Kadari Fabien Booker, 17, was arrested at 10:44 p.m. Wednesday night. He faces felony kidnapping and sexual assault charges. Booker’s bail is $500,000.
Harrison County Justice Court Judge Brandon Ladner remanded the three to the Harrison County jail awaiting bond. Chief Papania said more arrests will be made as the investigation continues.
“We are also evaluating the actions of other people present in order to determine if other charges will be forthcoming and I can tell you with certainty; there will be.”
The incident started at a gathering at Hudson’s home. A 23-year-old unidentified female was the apparent victim of the assault. Police say that the 17-year-old Johnson was the one recording the event and posting it on Facebook Live. People on Facebook who claim to know the victim stated that she is mentally disabled. Police are looking into the matter, and if the victim is indeed a “special needs” individual, additional charges will be pressed for abusing a vulnerable adult.
The video got around 46,000 views, and Papania said he was bothered by the attention that it got. “I can’t help but be disturbed by the incredible numbers of shares and views of this crude and despicable event,” he said. “We videotape pain and suffering, then we share it, and then we view it over and over.”
The Gulfport police received some criticism that they did not act quickly enough in making a statement on the case. The chief said that his department "conducts investigations at the speed of proper police work, not the speed of Facebook." He also acknowledged and thanked the Gulfport community for responding with tips, which helped in leading the police to the suspects identities.
This is not the first time a crime has been chronicled on Facebook. Back in April, Steve Stephens murdered Robert Godwin Sr. on camera and posted it to his wall. Just days later a Wuttisan Wongtalay killed his 11-month-old daughter in Thailand on the Live platform. It's a problem that is hard to handle without diligent moderation, which is difficult conceding the number of users who post content to the social media leader.