In my humble opinion, confessing to a crime you didn't commit, especially without any coercion, is a dumb thing to do. That would make Edward Neary, the Northeast Philadelphia man who confessed to beating up Rangers fans on our Facebook page Wednesday, dumb. But again, that's just a personal opinion.
Since Neary dimed himself out on the BSH Facebook page earlier this week, his name has been dragged through the mud across the North American media. The story has been picked up by the New York Daily News, the Star-Ledger, the Philadelphia Daily News, The Sporting News, NBC New York, SI.com, ESPN, Yahoo! Sports, the Daily Mail in the United Kingdom, the Toronto Sun, and countless other local and national news organizations that I've lost track of.
It truly goes to show the power of the Internet. What you say here isn't just out there in the ether. It matters. This is the real world just as much as the corner of 9th and Passyunk is the real world.
Mr. Neary learned that lesson the hard way. According to his own posts on Facebook, Fox 29 showed up at his house yesterday, and he was called in by South Detectives for an interview. We're hearing that some of his friends -- the ones he tried to pass off the blame for the attack once he realized how big a mistake it was to fess up himself -- were also asked to chat with Philadelphia Police.
But according to ESPN New York's Katie Strang, who has done some of the best reporting on this story since we busted it open on Wednesday, says that according to an anonymous police source, Neary was just playing a prank. "All bullshit," the source confirmed to her.
I think the Neary situation is a fascinating case-study in the Internet and social media, and I think the publicity our story has picked up has done worlds of good for the reputation of the Philadelphia sports fan. That was really part of our original intent in posting the video -- a way of saying "hey, these people don't represent us." I think among those who read our story, that message came off loud and clear.
But that wasn't our full intent. We never expected the story to get this much publicity, but it did because we thought we may have found the assailants, or at least one of them. We didn't.
There are still three men out there who beat up a 30-year-old off-duty police officer from Woodbridge, N.J.
His name is Neal Auricchio, and while we feel sorry for him that he's been rooting for the Rangers all this time (jokes!), our hearts go out to him just as if he were one of our own. Hell, he is one of our own. He's a freakin' war hero who was awarded a Purple Heart for his service in Iraq. And he's a hockey fan who was just trying to enjoy a cheesesteak at Geno's, nevermind that enjoying a cheesesteak at Geno's is an oxymoron.
We know a little bit more about how the entire incident started, and for anybody that said "hey, maybe the Ranger fan was mouthing off and got what he deserved!" ... yeah, you were wrong. Not to mention that a little trash talk is totally different than aggravated assault.
According to multiple reports, the goons dressed up as Flyers fans paid a homeless guy outside of Geno's to squirt Windex (or whatever was in his bottle as he tried to clean car windows) at the Rangers fans. That's what provoked it, and it spilled over into a fight. Actually, it wasn't a fight. It was an attack.
An attack from some scumbags who are still on the loose, either shitting themselves over the attention this story has picked up or laughing with each story that gets written. We can't let these guys get away. Seriously, if you know anything, contact South Detectives.
South Detective Division
Det Tocco #9079
On the flip side, we still have the opportunity to do some good, even if we don't have the knowledge of who committed this crime. We urge the Flyers to do something for Mr. Auricchio and the other Ranger fans who were victims in this, whether it's inviting them to a game and honoring them or recognizing them in some other way.
Here at BSH, we're also working on raising money for the victims, with the hopes of passing it along to them, perhaps even with an in-person meeting. If you'd like to contribute to those efforts, check in with this FanPost where we're working on organizing the effort.