By Matt Kyle | Staff Writer, Video by Siegrid Massie | Broadcast Reporter
Waco Police Department arrested Brian May, 26, earlier this month after he was exposed by a YouTube video of another man posing as a 14-year-old girl in order to catch sexual predators.
Waco PD spokesperson Cierra Shipley said the video was brought to the department’s attention, and an officer recognized May as a registered sex offender. According to the Texas Public Sex Offender Website, May was charged with possession of child pornography in 2016. Shipley said he was arrested this time for failing to keep up with his sex offender registration.
Shipley said Waco PD is currently looking to speak with the man who made the YouTube video. The video was posted to the account Waco Predator Catchers, which has been completely wiped of any content, including the YouTube video exposing May.
“We’re looking for the man who made that video,” Shipley said. “It’s pretty viable evidence of what he posted online, so we’re looking for that man to come forward if he has any more information and more evidence for us to use in the case.”
Joseph Scaramucci, human trafficking detective for McLennan County Sheriff’s Office, said the sheriff’s office has people dedicated full time to catching online predators, but it is difficult to gauge just how many predators look for victims online. He said the sheriff’s office finds these predators by either receiving tips from citizens or using fictitious accounts posing as underage children.
“There’s no way to determine unless we specifically catch somebody,” Scaramucci said. “We can go out and do a very targeted operation, and we can arrest 20 people in the matter of a couple of days. But there’s really no way to get an accurate gauge on how many people are out there doing this.”
Scaramucci said people who make these videos exposing predators can hurt law enforcement investigations. He said these “vigilantes” are unaware of the standards and protocols police departments must follow in these investigations and the legalities behind what would be considered a crime, and it can often be dangerous to approach these predators.
“They don’t realize the dangers that are involved,” Scaramucci said. “It’s very common and routine for us to come across [predators] that have firearms on them. It could also put them in a place where they’re criminally responsible for committing a crime as well. So they could end up turning around and going into jail. If you want to be the police, go to the police academy. Learn how to do it properly and do it correctly.”
Scaramucci said it is important when meeting up with someone you meet online to vet them as much as possible to ensure they really are who they say they are. Shipley said it is important to make sure friends or family know when you are meeting up with someone from the internet. She also said it is important for the community to work together to stop sex crimes. Tips can be reported to Waco PD at 254-750-7500 or anonymously through Crime Stoppers at 254-753-4375.
“Meet in a populated area at a normal time of the day, when you know people are going to be around if something does happen,” Shipley said. “To meet at a weird time of day at a more isolated location probably isn’t going to be the best, because you don’t know that person that you’re talking to on the other side of the screen. They could end up being anyone, and it can turn into a really dangerous situation.”