'Social shaming' prompts thief to rethink his life

King 5's Eric Wilkinson reports

We've all heard about the negative impacts of "shaming" people on social media. In one case, however, it appears to be having a positive effect.

Ethan Walker is a musician and artist. He's also a heroin addict who has turned to crime to support his habit.

Walker started using when he was just 16-years-old. Four years later, his problem has now become that of others.

"It really does have a huge impact on the community," he said.

Walker admitted to almost nightly car prowls and burglaries to get money for drugs. Earlier this month he broke into a truck and stole two custom made longboards in downtown Everett. Not long after, surveillance photos were posted on Facebook.

"My picture was everywhere," said Walker. "I knew I was in trouble."

John Hales posted those pictures to a Snohomish County crime page on Facebook. The Everett tattoo artist had designed and built those stolen longboards. They were his pride and joy.

Within hours Walker was publicly identified as the thief, and the comments started streaming in.

One person posted, "You're not special. You're just another bag of meat that gets the privilege to walk this Earth with the rest of us."

Another post read, "WTF? Get a job!"

Many more comments were far less polite. Walker's mother even got dragged into the mix.

It was that social media shaming Walker said did provide a wake-up call – that and the fact that he realized he had hurt another artist.

Walker got in touch with Hales and returned the skateboards.

"I felt really bad because that was his first piece of artwork," said Walker. "It would be like my first song I ever wrote and someone stealing that."

"I hope he turns his life around," said Hales. "He's young. I hope he has learned some things."

Walker has a baby on the way and said the social shaming has prompted him to go to rehab.

He said he hopes to put the shame of this incident and many others behind him for good.

© 2017 KING-TV


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