Ferguson police deny Anonymous' ID of alleged shooter

ferguson police

The St. Louis County Police Department said the hacking group Anonymous has identified the wrong shooter of unarmed teen Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.

Thursday morning, Anonymous released the name of the man it believes to be the police officer who shot and killed Brown over the weekend. A tit-for-tat is now underway, with hackers on one side and police on the other.

Brown's death has sparked protests in the city since his death Saturday. The city police department had refused to disclose the name of the officer, citing fears of retribution by an angry public.

In a brazen act of protest, vigilantes claiming to be members of Anonymous gave the Ferguson police department an ultimatum: Release the name or we will.

The "Operation Ferguson" group went through with its promise Thursday morning, publishing a man's name, his photograph and his conversation with a friend on Facebook.

Related story: Witnesses to Michael Brown's shooting detail his last minutes

In its typical fashion, Anonymous has been waging a digital battle on Twitter. It started with demands for the officer's name. Then the group hacked the police department's computers and obtained audio files of police dispatches.

County police responded to Anonymous on Twitter, denying that the man works for St. Louis County or Ferguson police. The department refused to identify the actual shooter and asked the group to halt its campaign.

"Do not release more info on this random citizen," the department said. "We only release suspect information after the investigation is complete and charges have been issued."

CNN is not disclosing the man's name until it can confirm he is indeed the officer who shot and killed Brown.

In the past, Anonymous hackers have seized data that is unreliable and relatively easy to obtain, casting initial doubts on authenticity.

Related story: Journalists in Ferguson arrested

At midday, @TheAnonMessage Twitter account was suspended. Twitter (TWTR) declined to comment.

-- CNNMoney's Laurie Segall contributed reporting to this story.

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