Emu killer witch-hunt warning over name and shame
WARNING: Confronting footage.
IT'S the footage that's horrified the country - and the world.
A man filmed himself behind the wheel of a white 4WD, laughing hysterically while deliberately mowing down multiple emus on an unidentified outback road.
One by one, the emus are struck down by the vehicle, as the man laughs uncontrollably while counting each hit out loud.
"F***ing emus," he is heard yelling from behind the camera.
"One, two, three," he says.
"This is f***ing great. I've got that one too … and that one."
The footage of the incident was shared by an account in the name of Fabio Galletti, which called for people to help identify the man. Three possible suspects have been identified by police and the RSPCA as investigations continue into the incident.
But now there are concerns it has sparked a witch hunt via social media.
A spokeswoman for the animal welfare organisation RSPCA pleaded with social media users to contact law enforcements rather than name and shame people online.
"All these reports are occurring but nobody has come to the organisation that can actually do something about it," RSPCA SA media manager Carolyn Jones told news.com.au.
"We are urgently requesting that anyone who knows this person to formally identify him to the RSPCA by contacting 1300 477 722 so that we can investigate properly."
A 20-year-old man from South Australia was named in the media by his ex-girlfriend as the offender but those claims have not been verified.
And yesterday, a 19-year-old Melbourne man contacted news.com.au claiming he had been outed as the offender on social media.
Harrison Hatzis said he'd received an avalanche of death threats and a barrage of abuse as a result of the false identification.
"It's not me," Mr Hatzis told news.com.au.
"My work mate tagged me because I have a photo with an emu on my profile but it's not me in that video," Mr Hatzis told news.com.au.
"I've copped heaps of abuse and messages from people saying: 'You're dead'."
Ms Jones said tagging and identifying people through social channels and the media won't necessarily bring the offender to justice.
"Unfortunately the social media forum is unreliable as a source of solid evidence that will hold up in court," she said.
"Our concern is that (incorrect identification) has happened in the past, and innocent people will be blamed for an incident they had no involvement in."
RSPCA staff are examining the footage to try and determine where it was filmed, and said multiple names had been circulated in the media.
"We will be trying to establish the identity of this man through any means we can," Ms Jones said.
"We are shocked and horrified by the footage, and horrified for animals to be treated in this way as any reasonable person would be. But this is a legal matter that needs to be handled by the appropriate process."
If convicted in South Australia, the offender could face a $50,000 penalty or four years in jail. In NSW, the possible penalties for an offence like this could be up to five years in prison and $22,000 in fines.
RSPCA's MIchael Beatty told AAP a suspect in South Australia looked the most promising, but could not be identified.