Police investigating if online forum 8chan, linked to Texas mass shooting, operates from Philippines 

Crosses and flowers at a makeshift memorial for victims of Walmart shooting that left a total of 22 people dead at the Cielo Vista Mall WalMart in El Paso, Texas, on August 5, 2019. <i> Photo: Mark Ralston/AFP </i>
Crosses and flowers at a makeshift memorial for victims of Walmart shooting that left a total of 22 people dead at the Cielo Vista Mall WalMart in El Paso, Texas, on August 5, 2019. Photo: Mark Ralston/AFP

The Philippine National Police (PNP) is now verifying reports that the online forum 8chan, which is linked to the mass shooting in El Paso, Texas over the weekend, is operating from the Philippines.

Police chief Police General Oscar Albayalde said in a press briefing today that he ordered the force’s Anti-Cybercrime Division to monitor the website, CNN Philippines reported. Whether or not they can issue a closure order would depend on the information the police can gather regarding 8chan’s server or provider.

On Saturday, Aug. 3 (Sunday, Manila time), a gunman killed at least 20 people with an assault rifle at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas.

According to reports, suspect Patrick Crusius, a white 21-year-old, is believed to have posted a 2,300-word “manifesto” on 8chan before the shooting where he spoke out against a “Hispanic invasion of Texas,” reported Los Angeles Magazine.

According to The New York Times, at least three mass shootings this year were announced on 8chan. This includes the killings at Christchurch, New Zealand mosques in March and those at a synagogue in Poway, California in April.

8chan was created by American Fredrick Brennan in 2013 but according to Time magazine, he turned over ownership of the website to U.S. Army veteran Jim Watkins in 2015. News website Splinter reported on April 2016 that Watkins has been living in the Philippines since 2004 where he owns a farm.

According to Albayalde, the PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group is verifying if Watkins is still in the country.

Brennan told The New York Times that the website he created but no longer has control over should be shut down because “it’s not doing the world any good.”

8chan went offline after web services giant Cloudflare cut off its service following the Texas mass shooting. It resurfaced shortly after when web host Epik took over but was later taken down again after web services company Voxility, which Epik leases servers from, found out, The Verge reported. As of this article’s posting, 8chan was still offline.

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