A pharmacist accused of intentionally destroying 570 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine was first identified as Steven Brandenburg of Grafton, Wisconsin, by an online sleuth.
At the end of December, news broke that hundreds of doses of the Moderna vaccine were ruined after being left out at room temperature for longer than is allowable in order for them to stay effective.
The investigation determined that an employee deliberately took the vials out of storage for two nights in a row, in what appears to have been an attempt to not only ruin them but hide the fact that they were no longer viable.
The perpetrator “knew that spoiled vaccinations would be useless and that people who had received the vaccinations would think they had been vaccinated against the virus when in fact they were not,” according to a statement from the Grafton police.
As it stands, 57 people received the compromised doses.
The COVID-19 vaccine is currently limited and rolling out far slower than anticipated, and so the crime shocked and frustrated Americans who are counting down the days until doses are available to the general public. People wanted to know who did such a cruel thing in the middle of a pandemic. But when police reported that a pharmacist was arrested in conjunction with the destruction of the doses, they declined to release his name.
One TikTok user by the name of @rk0rcist, or Savannah, took matters into her own hands to figure out the identity of the suspect, and her work seems to have paid off.
On Dec. 31, about a day before media outlets began publishing the pharmacist's identity, Savannah made a TikTok video detailing how she figured it out.
In the video, Savannah says she cross-referenced the list of recently booked inmates in Grafton with people registered with the Wisconsin Board of Pharmacy database, confirmed the data with several other unnamed sources, and came up with the name Steven Brandenburg.
"So if you see this asshole out and about the Wisconsin area, give him one of these for me," she says, flipping off the camera.
Sure enough, the charges against Brandenburg match up with the ones reportedly being brought against the pharmacist in question, and now other outlets have begun following the same path to the same conclusion drawn on TikTok.
Both the actual crime and the refusal of police to officially release the pharmacist’s name has people up in arms across social media.
“He’s white, so they refuse to show his name/face,” user @GlSowhattt accused.
And @GlSowhattt wasn’t alone with that theory, as soon became apparent across Twitter.
Charges have yet to officially be brought against the “rogue pharmacist,” as he is often being referred to as, but people in the Grafton area who are awaiting the vaccine have no kind words for the man.
“You’re a pharmacist, you know what this pandemic can do to people,” said Timothy Skow, who reportedly lived down the street from Brandenburg. “I hope you sit in a cell and spend the rest of your life there.”
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