Photo credit: Stephanie Savas

On Thursday, a man in a Ewing Township, New Jersey, shot and killed another man reportedly over a parking space. Wayne Voorhees fired multiple shots from his second-floor unit at the Versailles Apartments in a nearly eight-hour stand-off with police. Stephanie Savas was in an apartment alone in a neighboring building inside the complex and, she said, unaware that others had been evacuated. She shared her situation with friends on Facebook. Then she decided to write about her situation on Reddit, the popular online community, and the post took off, garnering hundreds of replies, and sparking a controversy about whether she was faking it. A moderator in the forum flagged the post as a suspected fake. The red flag was lifted, but the post has yet to be confirmed as true. I decided to investigate.

First, why would she write about her situation on Reddit? Here’s the title of her post:

I am currently holed up in an apartment complex where in the building not 50 feet from my bedroom window is a man with a high powered rifle who has murdered one man, and is currently holding a hostage, AmA! (I need distractions, so literally, ask me ANYTHING)

Okay, now to Stephanie. Her Reddit username is Ellinika. During the standoff, The Trentonian newspaper’s website quoted a woman inside the apartment complex identified only as Stephanie. Ellinika wrote on Reddit that she was Stephanie. When she was accused of making it all up, she posted other identifying information, including her Facebook page. She agreed to friend me and I saw her Facebook posts about the standoff.

The time stamp shows she uploaded the photos at 2:13 p.m. from her phone. The Trentonian did not post descriptions and then photos from Stephanie until later in the afternoon. I did a public records search and found that Stephanie Savas was recorded as living at the Versailles Apartments. I contacted the Trentonian reporter, Joey Kulkin, and he replied: “Yes, she lives there and was the inside source for a lot of the story.” That’s confirmed enough for me.

During the standoff, the tech news site CNET took notice of Stephanie’s Reddit thread. And Stephanie decided to comment on CNET, too. This may all seem a little strange to some, but I see it as no different than someone in the pre-Internet days getting on the phone with a friend or loved one during a crisis. With the Internet, you can get on the phone with the world.