BY KALISHA MENDONSA
The Lacombe Police Service entered into an investigation after learning an individual had been harassed online and in person.
Police learned that over the past three months the victim in this case had been communicating with a person online via a social web site.
After communicating for some time the victim attempted to block the suspect from communications however the suspect continued to access the victim’s network site.
In November the suspect, under a false pretense, convinced the victim to meet in person at a location in Lacombe.
The victim did attend the location where he was approached by a male wearing a hoodie who put a cellphone in his face and advised the victim he is being recorded and has been busted by Creep Catchers.
Friends of the victim happened to pass by and see the encounter at which time the victim was able to leave and got in a vehicle with the friends. The video of the incident was later posted to the Red Deer Creep Catchers facebook page making false allegations against the victim. The posting has since been removed.
The police investigation identified a suspect and charges of criminal harassment and mischief have been laid against 37-year-old Karl Young of Red Deer.
Young has been released on conditions to have no contact with the victim and not to access or use any computer or cell phone except for a work purpose. Young is scheduled to appear in Red Deer Provincial Court on Dec. 9th.
Police are continuing their investigation to identify a second suspect who may have been involved or assisted the accused in this incident.
“In this case police believe the victim was targeted online and lured into a situation by a person or group using vigilante type tactics without justification or facts to support their claims,” said acting Police Chief and Inspector Lorne Blumhagen of LPS.
“We do not support any person or group that takes on vigilante type actions. We would encourage anybody that has suspicions of any type of crime taking place that they notify police and have police conduct the investigation.”
Blumhagen said these types of vigilante actions could potentially hinder ongoing police investigations.
As well, he said people can be victimized by the actions of people who attempt to pursue information or hearsay that does not have a reliable source.
“We do not want people to investigate issues via social media or try somebody via social media. Many times, the information that is out on social media is not correct,” he stated.
“We do not want people to engage in that type of conduct as it is irresponsible, and if there is a legitimate issue or complaint, the police are capable of looking into those matters and bringing that issue into court if the evidence presents itself.”