Californians received their first-ever mobile Amber Alert overnight Monday after two young children were believed to have been abducted by their mother’s suspected killer, and the loud, buzzing notification reverberated on Twitter and Facebook.
The 10-second buzzing, beeping alert went out sometime between late Monday and early Tuesday morning as police searched for James Lee DiMaggio and two children: Hannah, 16, and Ethan, 8. DiMaggio is accused of killing the children’s mother, Christina Anderson, whose body was discovered in the charred rubble of a home in rural San Diego county.
DiMaggio, who was described as a close, platonic friend of the slain Anderson, is believed to be heading towards Canada in a blue Nissan Versa with the California license plate 6WCU986.
Authorities believe the children were taken around 5 p.m. on Saturday. Amber Alerts were displayed on highway signs like usual, but also went straight to personal cell phones. The mobile alert varied from a simple text message to one that repeatedly vibrated and beeped, according to the Los Angeles Times.
It’s part of the Department of Justice’s new Wireless Emergency Alerts program in connection with the FCC and FEMA. To receive the alerts one must have a WEA-enabled phone, thus opting out of the messages can be done by changing the message or alert settings.
From the reactions on Twitter, some may choose to opt out, while others took the opportunity to spread the word:
New Yorkers received their first cell phone Amber Alert in the early hours of July 17th after a non-custodial, bi-polar mother took her seven-month-old son during a supervised Children’s Services visit in Harlem.
The prolonged beeping and buzzing at four a.m. jolted many New Yorkers out of their slumber and left them tired and thin on empathy the next morning when they took to social media.
DiMaggio is still on the run, according to authorities, and anyone with information about the suspect is asked to call homicide detail at (858) 974-2321 or (858) 565-5200, or San Diego County Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477.