Utica Police did not respond to requests for comment by the time of publication, but told other media outlets that they were aware of social media postings involving the alleged perpetrator and purported victim and unspecified injuries, but could not confirm the veracity of the photographs.
Users of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube woke up this morning to warnings to block keywords including the alleged perpetrator’s username, for fear that the images would spread onto their timelines.
The alleged killer, who reportedly tried to take his own life but was apprehended by police in Utica, New York around 7am local time on Sunday, shared various images on his Instagram story (a semi-permanent method of uploading pictures and video to share with users) in the run-up to the incident.
The third image – which Instagram’s algorithms identified as sensitive content, requiring users to agree to see it – is a bloody photograph of a body, thought to be that of his victim.
At the same time, more violent images were posted to a Discord – an online forum accessed through a smartphone app – that both the alleged attacker and the victim used, and on 4chan, an anonymous message board on which users post extremist theories and share gory images for fun.
News of the incident travelled around the world, alongside horrifying images of violence, before social networks took it down.
A live video stream celebrating the alleged attacker’s actions, including showing images purportedly from the scene, was available on YouTube for the best part of an hour before being removed for violating YouTube policy on violent or graphic content.