The Amarillo Police Department has confirmed the rumors circulating on social media about a wandering rapist in Amarillo are not true.
Police began receiving calls Monday evening about the post that originated on Facebook, claiming an African American male has been hanging out the Paramount area, following women home and raping them. According to the post, the rapist has attacked three women, one of which fought and escaped.
"What I can tell you is it's not true," Cpl. Jerry Neufeld stated. "We've got one sexual assault in the last two months where the suspect is unknown to the victim, where they have no idea who the person was. One in the last two months, and that one didn't even happen in the Paramount area."
Neufeld added police never keep information like that private.
"If it were happeneing, we would want to get word out into the community about it," he said. "One of the things, obviously, that we suggest that people subscribe to is our Nixle program where, if we've got crime safety, personal information, tips or things that we need to get out- you can sign up with our Nixle. They can log onto that and they'll get it and they'll see what we're putting out."
The police department, like the community, utilizes social media. Mug shots are posted and shared, and this spread of information has helped APD track down criminals. But Neufeld pointed out false infomration like this can cause panic within a community.
"People will copy and paste it, they'll forward it out to their friends, they'll send an email, a post, even a text message without really verifying it. Before you know it, you've got thousands- literally thousands and thousands- of people who are seeing this and they're trying to decide what's going on, what's happening, 'What do I need to do?'"
He encouraged anyone with concerns, questions or information about any crimes to contact the Crime Prevention Unit.
"We spend sometimes an hour or two, sometimes several hours, tracking back this stuff, looking for people- who is this person, where'd this post come from, what do they really know- not what did somebody else tell them that someone else saw who knew somebody."
The rumor started on social media sites and was then perpetuated by a local radio station on the air and online.