Water Polo Star Nathan Kotylak Nabbed on Facebook for Allegedly Setting Police Car on Fire in Post-Stanley Cup Riots

PHOTO: Nathan Kotylak lights a rag stuffed in the gas cap of a police car
Share
Copy

Canadian water polo star and Olympic hopeful Nathan Kotylak learned the hard way that there's no such thing as a faceless mob anymore.

Kotylak, 17, faces charges of participating in a riot and arson for allegedly setting a police car on fire June 15 during the melee that broke out after the Boston Bruins won Game 7 against the Vancouver Canucks in the Stanley Cup finals in Vancouver, British Columbia, according to a police report.

Several photographers and spectators documented looters and angry hockey fans in mayhem. Creating quite a buzz on social media sites and blogs is an image of Kotylak shoving a rag inside the gas tank of a Vancouver police cruiser. He looks ready to light the rag on fire.

But Kotylak was not the only one identified through social media outlets, which seem to have handed riot participants to authorities on a silver platter, putting names to faces in an online cornucopia of riot images.

The Vancouver Police Department said it has made 117 arrests so far, tipped off by more than 3,000 messages offering tips about the identity of those appearing to commit criminal acts. Of these, more than 600 messages came with YouTube links and 1,011 links to other social media sites, mostly Facebook. A YouTube video titled "Name That Moron -- 2011 Stanley Cup Rioters Exposed ("Ten Idiots")" asked viewers to help identify all individuals and email police with any information. The website Lamebook.com even offered several examples of people incriminating themselves in the post-Stanley Cup riots.

Social media has created a whole new world for law enforcement, and in some ways the police have never had it so good.

"The sheer volume and speed of the information is overwhelming," said Sgt. Dale Weidman of the Vancouver Police Department, explaining how social media offers new opportunities for investigators. "In a routine case we have a clear crime, and then take steps to identify the suspect and compile evidence. In these cases, we have names of suspects before we know exactly what they did and where they did it."

Since Kotylak is not yet 18, Canada's Youth Criminal Justice Act would have ordinarily protected his identity. His attorney, however, obtained a court order that allowed Kotylak to go public and make an apology on Canadian TV last Saturday.

"I want to apologize to my mom and dad," Kotylak said through sobs. "What I did does not reflect the love, values, lessons and great opportunities that you've provided for me, and I am very sorry to bring this embarrassment to you."

It's not as if Kotylak had much of a choice about whether to own up and go public. Soon after the riots, images of him spread around Facebook and YouTube. Classmates and acquaintances quickly identified him in pictures and video comments. Numerous blogs, such as publicshamingeternus, uploaded his picture on posts.

Bart Findlay, Kotylak's lawyer, told ABCNews.com that his client is "a good kid" who's had no previous run-ins with the law, not even a speeding ticket. Findlay said he couldn't speculate on whether Kotylak would've made a public apology had it not been for the images that flew through cyberspace.

"The web and social media is getting rid of anonymous behavior and creating a transparency," said Jason Keath, president of Socialfresh.com, which teaches people how to use social media. "If you want to avoid putting yourself out there on the Internet, than you can do so by not joining Twitter or Facebook, but if you're out in a public setting, committing a crime, then people are going to do that for you."

Page
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...
See It, Share It
Lisa Kudrow
Seth Poppel/Yearbook Library | Getty Images
PHOTO: Salvager Eric Schmitt was combing through the wreckage of a convoy of Spanish ships that sank off the coast of Florida in 1715 when he discovered a missing piece from a gold Pyx.
Courtesy 1715 Fleet - Queens Jewels, LLC
PHOTO: Motorists were startled when an axe from a dump truck in front of them flew at their windshield.
Massachusetts State Police/Facebook