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Social media posts probed in murder investigation

LAWTON, Okla._ Pictures have now surfaced from the Facebook page of Thorsten Rushing, who's suspected in the shooting deaths of his father and 13-year-old brother.

In the weeks leading up to his family members being gunned down in their northwest Lawton home, cartoons depicting violence and revenge were shared on the alleged shooter's Facebook page.  Lawton police have confirmed those images have been used in their investigation.

One person who commented on a majority of those images was Rushing's seventh grade student-teacher who still can't wrap her head around the fact her favorite student is alleged to have committed such a heinous crime.

Rushing's public Facebook profile shows multiple comics (shown to left) uploaded from Dec. 26-30, less than three weeks before the crime.

"(He was) well-mannered (and) well-behaved … never any problems out of him," said Stephanie Higginbotham. "Just any teacher's dream for a student."

Higginbotham says the comics, known as Bitstrips, do not signal a red flag in her opinion.

"I didn't think anything of it because we all know it's just a little app meant to be lighthearted," said Higginbotham.

One cartoon depicts two people, one of which is illustrated jumping over a couch and out of danger's way. Last Monday night, police say Rushing's father and brother were shot to their death while they were watching television.

All of these images have been viewed by police and Captain Craig Akard said in a statement: "We have viewed (the pictures) and have them noted in our investigation. If there is an aspect of the crime that we can correlate with the Bitstrips then that will be something we could use ... social media is a good source of information in society today. We obtain valuable information as to activities and acquaintances that is helpful in some of the investigations."

While not all the Bitstrips depict a grand scheme, community members who have been following this case see a correlation between them and his alleged involvement in the crime.

"I don't believe they would put something like this out there unless they were planning on doing something," said Andy Perrier, Lawton.

"I think that he really was thinking about doing that to his brother and father. This was his way of coming out with it," was Vanessa Bailey's response after viewing the Bitstrips posted on Rushing's page.

Higginbotham says the entire situation brings tears to her eyes.

"I think maybe there was something that we just don't know that may be a little bit deeper that went on at home," she said.

All five suspects remain in the Lawton city jail awaiting formal charges to be filed against them. As for the Facebook images, the district attorney reserves the right to use them until the case is closed.

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