Hunt for fugitive who vowed to surrender if he got 15,000 Facebook likes

US police are searching for a fugitive who failed to honour an agreement and surrender once enough people responded positively to his wanted poster on social media.

Jose Simms has seven arrest warrants and is being sought as a fugitive after failing to appear in court on charges ranging from breach of peace to risk of injury to a child.

He is believed to be somewhere in New York.

Wanted poster of Jose Simms (Torrington Police Department/AP)
Wanted poster of Jose Simms (Torrington Police Department/AP)

Lieutenant Brett Johnson, of Torrington Police in Connecticut, posted on the department’s Facebook page on Wednesday that Simms had contacted him through the social media site and agreed to turn himself in if the post containing his poster received 15,000 likes.

The page has easily passed that number, but still no sign of Simms or another fugitive, Kristopher Waananen, who has outstanding motor vehicle and failure to appear warrants.

He was mentioned in the same post, but without a similar agreement to surrender.

“Regardless of the number of ‘Likes’ this post receives, we will continue to utilize the resources we have available to us to locate both suspects and take them into custody,” wrote Lieutenant Bart Barown.

The deal led to some criticism. Maki Haberfeld, an expert in police ethics and procedure at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said Simms is using social media to manipulate the news media and police, who she said have no business negotiating a deal with a suspect, never mind one that involves likes on Facebook.

“It turns this into a joke,” she said. “People will start looking at these various violations of law as a game.”

On Wednesday, Simms had written he was a “man of my word” and he had decided to negotiate his surrender because “looking over your shoulder every 5 seconds can cause a lot of stress”.

He also responded to the original Torrington Police post, complaining about his mugshot on the site, calling it a “trash pic”.

“Jose, it’s the only one we had.hopefully we will get a ‘good’ one soon,” the department replied.

- Press Association

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