An ABC News reporter was attacked on social media Tuesday after reporting looters to police, as Tropical Storm Harvey continued its rampage.
Correspondent Tom Llamas was slammed as a snitch after claiming he “informed police of the looting” witnessed taking place at a nearby Houston, Texas, supermarket.
“We informed police of the looting and Coast Guard is flying overhead. Multiple officers now on the scene,” Llamas had tweeted.
Llamas was later forced to delete his tweet and issue a clarification, saying his team was “w/police who had discovered a dead body & mentioned we saw ppl w/faces covered going into a supermarket nearby.”
Let me clear this up–we were w/police who had discovered a dead body & mentioned we saw ppl w/faces covered going into a supermarket nearby pic.twitter.com/bfM5WCCO1e
— Tom Llamas (@TomLlamasABC) August 29, 2017
But upon learning Llamas had condemned the looting, Twitter jumped to the criminals’ defense, with many assuming starving people were merely obtaining food.
“Looting a supermarket in a flood is also known as getting food,” North Carolina Democrat lawmaker John Burns said.
Looting a supermarket in a flood is also known as getting food.
— John Burns (@johnburnsnc) August 29, 2017
So, in your #BREAKING announcement, hungry folks looting food (aka survival) takes precedence over the discovery of a body?
— Danula (@dlvest) August 29, 2017
Good job man. Obviously people finding food was more important than someone who literally died.
— jordan 🌹🌹 (@JordanUhl) August 29, 2017
Tom why did you call it looting?
— miles harrison (@MilesDeighton) August 29, 2017
And now you know why they covered their faces, so some jackass wouldn’t report them for getting food supplies
— NRidingsⓋ (@njridings) August 29, 2017
— Welansa Asrat, MD (@Dr_Asrat) August 29, 2017
We see you.
— Welansa Asrat, MD (@Dr_Asrat) August 29, 2017
I’m guessing the looting occurred bc people haven’t eaten in four days… babies need diapers… kids are hungry… they need water…
— Compassion💜 (@UniqueMom444) August 29, 2017
MarketWatch also chimed in with a snarky attack aimed at Llamas, saying, “No families struggling for a bag of soggy Wonder Bread on Llamas’s watch.”
Of course, footage is emerging showing looters stealing more than just loaves of bread.
One video shows people breaking into a business, with another showing men stealing money from a cash register.
Houston: The looting continues… pic.twitter.com/XFpIrlq2or
— Based Monitored 🇺🇸 (@BasedMonitored) August 29, 2017
— Megan Horton (@mehorton) August 29, 2017
Another group of men were witnessed walking away from businesses with stolen flat-screen televisions — hardly survival gear.
People also reported a Twitter user who encouraged followers to loot from white people and Trump supporters.
— Hope For Hailey Dunn (@HopeForHaileyD) August 29, 2017
Local Houston rapper Baby Bash recounted to TMZ how looters had stolen his father’s vehicle.
“We’re holding in there,” he said. “The looting’s starting. They took my dad’s truck and stole it, and they ran into a CVS to try to steal an ATM last night. So the looting has started. People don’t understand. There’s another part. The flood is one thing, and then the chaos and the anarchy and the craziness and the people just desperate to steal. To survive is going to be another issue.”
Police say they’ve caught up to 14 looters in the last 48 hours, including armed robbers who were ransacking a neighborhood, and others who broke into a GameStop.
— ABC13 Houston (@abc13houston) August 29, 2017
“Burglarizing a home would normally bring a penalty of two to 20 years in prison, but now brings five years to life,” reports ABC13.com, noting a Texas law targeting disaster areas.
The Harris County District Attorney’s office also warned looters and property thieves would be prosecuted.
Looters and thieves who prey on closed businesses and homes should be on notice that they will be arrested and prosecuted.
— Harris County DA (@HarrisCountyDAO) August 28, 2017
“Anyone who tries to take advantage of this storm to break into homes or businesses should know that they are going to feel the full weight of the law,” Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg stated. “Offenders will be processed around the clock without delay.”
The neighboring Montgomery County district attorney’s office also announced stiffer penalties for looters, including mandatory jail time.
Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo praised law enforcement for handling looters.
Some people thought they’d loot and find themselves in jail thanks to the men and women of @houstonpolice.
— Chief Art Acevedo (@ArtAcevedo) August 27, 2017
The Houston Police Officers’ Union also gave a “shout out” to looters who disrupted rescue operations.
Shout out to looters who are breaking into businesses/shooting at firemen/officers and advertising it while we are saving people #disgusting
— HPOU (@HPOUTX) August 29, 2017