A young hacker reeling from the Philando Castile case and the acquittal of the officer who killed him broke into several state databases last year and boasted about his exploits.
“An innocent man is dead, while a guilty man is free,” the hacker, known as “Vigilance” tweeted in part last year.
The hacker also taunted authorities, tweeting: “Where am I? Clock is ticking.”
But the authorities were on to him. On Tuesday, they identified the alleged anonymous hacker as Cameron T. Crowley, 19, of Lino Lakes, and charged him in federal court.
An investigation by the FBI and Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension revealed that Crowley went by the nickname “Vigilance,” and hacked servers owned by the state and other entities between May 28, 2017, and June 17, 2017, officials said.
Crowley was charged in federal court with three counts of intentional access to a protected computer and one count each of intentional damage to a protected computer and aggravated identity theft.
He made his first appearance Tuesday afternoon, and he remains in custody pending a detention hearing. Crowley was appointed a federal defender and is scheduled for an arraignment Friday.
Crowley transmitted programs, codes and commands to the protected computer servers, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a news release. The crimes caused damage and cost the state of Minnesota more than $5,000, according to the news release.
On June 16, jurors acquitted then-St. Anthony officer Jeronimo Yanez of fatally shooting Castile during a traffic stop. The next day, “Vigilance,” who used The Joker as a profile picture, tweeted that the state databases were hacked. The next day, Vigilance tweeted that Minnesota State University Moorhead was hacked, tying the hacks to the Yanez case.
A Twitter user by the name of Vigilance corresponded with the Star Tribune last year in several Twitter direct messages. The tweet said at the time that the hack involved 23 state of Minnesota databases and “quite a lot of information.” The data included about 1,400 e-mails and passwords from state employees and private citizens, the hacker said.
Vigilance said the passwords were easily decrypted. The hacker told the Star Tribune that those actions were timed to Yanez’s trial.
“I chose the Philando case because I was so fed up with all the injustices in the news about cops killing innocent men, women and children then walking free,” Vigilance told the Star Tribune. “When I saw the verdict, I knew I had to take action.”
Vigilance said hacking was the “platform” for six years, and that it was used to speak for those whose “voices have fallen on deaf ears.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.