In an unbelievable display of citizen journalism, an 18-year-old Reddit user shared up-to-the-moment coverage of yesterday's Aurora shooting through the night and into the morning hours. From his Denver, Colorado bedroom, the teen synthesized social media updates with posts from traditional news outlets to create a comprehensive timeline of the event in real time.
Going by his Reddit user name, Integ3r, the teen created a series of four posts with by-the-minute developments on the story, many of which hadn't yet been reported by major news stations and websites. He was the first to post about the shooting on Reddit.
According to Buzzfeed, the teen was up late playing a video game when he saw an update on his Facebook page from a local TV station saying that they were investigating a shooting at a movie theater.
He began posting updates on a Reddit thread and interacting with other users who were asking questions about the event. Much of his information came from the Aurora Police and Fire Live Feed.
"I stayed up all night, and I am exhausted now," Jones told Buzzfeed. "But it feels like I'm helping out people who need to know this stuff."
Jones was the first of many Reddit users to post updates on the story, eyewitness accounts, and photos of the shooting and its aftermath. One alleged victim uploaded photos of his bullet wound and blood-stained T-shirt.
Like Jones, other teens have harnessed the power of the Internet to help others in times of need. Earier this year, two Colorado teens jumped into action when they saw a suicidal-sounding Facebook status update from an acquaintance. The pair spend six hours talking to the teen and urging him not to take any drastic measures. When the conversation got more intense, they called 911, and police were able to arrive at the scene before it was too late.
Nineteen-year-old Amanda Clark, a student at Norther Kentucky University, had a similar experience when she saw a post on Tumblr from a 16-year-old acquaintance saying that she had just swallowed a bunch of pills. After seeking out the girl's contact information, Anna called a police precinct in Michigan, where the girl lived, and law enforcement officials managed to save her life.
In March, 'Sarah,' a Maryland student, posted a note to Reddit threatening her school to take action around a cyber-bullying problem. After the girl's 500-word note went viral, school administrators allegedly stepped in to deal with the issue.