Mike Mulugeta And Sunil Tripathi Falsely Identified As Boston Bombing Suspects
Per NBC News, the trouble began when a Twitter page for the group Anonymous wrote that the Boston Police scanner identified Mike Mulugeta as Suspect 1 and Sunil Tripathi as Suspect 2. This message quickly spread, and many people assumed these were the two people being hunted by the FBI. Only later did AP and other news organizations report that the alleged suspects are brothers Tsarnaev and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Mike Muluget and Sunil Tripathi were apparently not involved in the attacks.
Per the Brown Daily Herald, Sunil Tripathi, a student at the university, has been missing for several weeks. ABC News reported late last month that video footage from the night he disappeared showed him leaving his apartment without his wallet or phone.
A Facebook page has been set up dedicated to finding the missing student. The people behind that page posted a message on Friday morning about these false allegations.
"A tremendous and painful amount of attention has been cast on our beloved Sunil Tripathi in the past twelve hours, the message read in part. "We have known unequivocally all along that neither individual suspected as responsible for the Boston Marathon bombings was Sunil. We are grateful to all of you who have followed us on Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit-supporting us over the recent hours. Now more than ever our greatest strength comes from your enduring support."
This misidentification of Mike Mulugeta and Sunil Tripathi as suspects in the Boston bombing is just one of the errors the media has made in its coverage of this case. As the Washington Post notes, the New York Post reported on the day of the attack that 12 people had been killed. The paper stuck with his number even after authorities claimed that only three had died.
Later this week, that same paper posted a cover photo of two young men at the marathon complete with the headline "Bag Men." The subhead then stated that authorities were searching for the identities of the pair, seemingly implying that they were suspects in the case. However, as the Huffington Post notes, the story itself actually stated that those two men were not necessarily the Boston bombing suspects seen in surveillance videos.
Indeed, it seems that these two men were also falsely identified as suspects, just like Mike Mulugeta and Sunil Tripathi were. One of the young men is actually a teenager from a local high school, and he spoke to the New York Daily News about his ordeal.
"It's such a disaster," Salah Barhoum said. "To be blamed for all that injury and death. It's the worst."
Meanwhile, as the New York Times notes, the FBI called out several respected media outlets, including the Boston Globe, CNN and AP, for reporting that a suspect in the Boston bombing was in custody or arrested. At that time, the bombing suspects had not even been identified.
"Over the past day and a half, there have been a number of press reports based on information from unofficial sources that has been inaccurate," the FBI said in a statement. "Since these stories often have unintended consequences, we ask the media, particularly at this early stage of the investigation, to exercise caution and attempt to verify information through appropriate official channels before reporting."
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