CHICAGO - A retired Chicago firefighter says his life has been turned upside down and his family’s safety put at risk all because of a mistaken post on social media.
David Quintavalle was wrongly identified as one of the rioters who killed a Capitol police officer last week.
Now, he is speaking out to clear his name.
"It’s just put me on the defensive. It’s changed my whole life," Quintavalle said.
The 62-year-old says out of the blue Monday night, his email and cell phone began blowing up with threatening messages like this: "You’re a f***ing murderer and a traitor. And I can’t believe you killed a cop and your son’s a cop. Wow. Good luck in prison (bleep)."
"That’s just one on my cell phone. That’s what I was getting," Quintavalle said.
Turns out, a self-appointed social media sleuth had mistakenly identified Quintavalle as the man who threw a fire extinguisher at a Capitol cop during last week’s riots, killing the officer -- and the post went viral.
While the two men bear some resemblance, Quintavalle was home in Chicago celebrating his wife’s birthday the day of the Capitol attack and has the shopping receipts to prove it.
"I don’t feel safe. I am so glad the Chicago Police Department sent a car out there to protect my house," Quintavalle said.
"What happened to Mr. Quintavalle is a sad example of how a case of mistaken identification and social media can destroy a person’s life," said attorney John Nisivaco.
Legal experts say Quintavalle could sue for defamation, but it is an uphill battle because social media remains the Wild Wild West.
"As for this man, on Wednesday the Feds charged Robert Sanford of Pennsylvania with assaulting the officer," said FOX 32 legal analyst Karen Conti.
But Quintavalle says he still needs to clear his name.
"To let everybody know, I did not do this. And what happened to me with the social media, it could happen to you," he said.