MOSCOW, Idaho (AP) — A northern Idaho sheriff says he shut down the agency’s Facebook page because of a wave of posts blaming the sheriff’s office for the suicide of a 19-year-old Washington man.
Latah County Sheriff Wayne Rausch told the Moscow-Pullman Daily News that the page had 3,000 obscenity-laced posts.
“I’m not using it anymore, obviously, with close to 3,000 hits and nothing but hate and filth and profanity coming at me,” Rausch said. “What good are they? All these emails coming to me saying I should resign and how bad I am.”
The action follows the June 23 suicide of Andrew Cain of Pullman after the sheriff’s office congratulated Cain on Facebook for being the most-wanted man for the month of June. Cain fatally shot himself, Whitman County Coroner Pete Martin said.
After Cain’s death, his sister, Alise Smith, asked for an apology from a sheriff’s deputy who she said harassed her brother via Facebook.
Records obtained by the newspaper show Cain initiated contact with the sheriff’s office. But Rausch has apologized for the agency’s writing “Congratulations” concerning Cain’s wanted status.
According to court records, Cain didn’t appear in court in Idaho for a probation violation in April, and his wanted poster was put on the Latah County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page June 17.
The newspaper reports that later that day, Cain initiated contact with the sheriff’s office by stating, “I like your wanted poster.”
Sheriff’s Sgt. Doug Anderson replied, “Turn yourself in and I will give you a copy!”
According to the newspaper, Cain and Anderson exchanged several other messages.
Rausch defended Anderson over the exchange of messages.
“He didn’t say anything out of line,” the sheriff said. “He had a conversation with this guy that this guy started, and I tell you what, it didn’t sound like he was scared of law enforcement when he was chatting with us.”
Three days after the wanted poster went up, the sheriff’s office commented on its own post: “We have decided that Andrew Cain is no longer the Wanted Person of the Week … he is the Wanted Person for the Month of June. Congratulations!”
Martin said Cain had suffered from depression but couldn’t point to any one reason why Cain took his own life.