Meanwhile, at 2:14am Eastern, an official on the police scanner said, "Last name: Mulugeta, M-U-L-U-G-E-T-A, M as in Mike, Mulugeta." And thus was born the newest suspect in the case: Mike Mulugeta. It doesn't appear that Mulugeta, whoever he or she is, has a first name of Mike. And yet that name, "Mike Mulugeta," was about to become notorious.
But not at first.
A single tweet references Mulugeta at the time his name was said on the scanner. A Twitter user named Carcel Mousineau simply said, "Just read the name Mike Mulugeta on the scanner." It was retweeted exactly once. In the unofficial transcript of the scanner on Reddit, at least as it stands now, the reading of the name was recorded simply: "Police listed a name, unclear if related."
The next step in this information flow is the trickiest one. Here's what I know. At 2:42am, Greg Hughes, who had been following the Tripathi speculation, tweeted, "This is the Internet's test of 'be right, not first' with the reporting of this story. So far, people are doing a great job. #Watertown" Then, at 2:43am, he tweeted, "BPD has identified the names: Suspect 1: Mike Mulugeta. Suspect 2: Sunil Tripathi."
The only problem is that there is no mention of Sunil Tripathi in the audio preceding Hughes' tweet. I've listened to it a dozen times and there's nothing there even remotely resembling Tripathi's name. I've embedded the audio from 2:35 to 2:45 am for your own inspection. Multiple groups of people have been crowdsourcing logs of the police scanner chatter and none of them have found a reference to Tripathi, either. It's just not there.
Could some people have heard the name, but somehow that did not make it into the canonical recording at Broadcastify? I don't think one can rule anything out with this story, but it seems, at least, unlikely. (No other recordings have turned up from this time period in which Tripathi's name is mentioned.)
Yet the information was spreading like crazy. Seven minutes after Hughes' tweet, Kevin Michael (@KallMeG), a cameraman for the Hartford, Connecticut CBS affiliate, tweeted, "BPD scanner has identified the names: Suspect 1: Mike Mulugeta Suspect 2: Sunil Tripathi. #Boston #MIT." More media people started to pick things up around then, BuzzFeed's Andrew Kaczynski most quickly. His original tweet has since been deleted but retweets of it began before midnight and reached far and wide. Other media people, including Digg's Ross Newman, Politico's Dylan Byers, and Newsweek's Brian Ries, also tweeted about the scanner ID as 3am approached. Then, at exactly 3:00 Eastern, @YourAnonNews, Anonymous's main Twitter account tweeted, "Police on scanner identify the names of #BostonMarathon suspects in gunfight, Suspect 1: Mike Mulugeta. Suspect 2: Sunil Tripathi."
The informational cascade was fully on. @YourAnonNews's tweet was retweeted more than 3,000 times. We don't know how far Hughes's, Kaczynski's, or Michael's tweets went because they've been deleted. Hundreds of references to their tweets remain on Twitter.