The man misidentified by several far-right websites as the driver of the car that plowed into a group of counterprotesters in Charlottesville, Va., on Saturday has been forced into hiding and plans to sue, according to a new report.
Joel Vangheluwe, a Michigan resident, had been misidentified by GotNews.com, 4chan.org and other websites frequented by far-right users as the one responsible for Saturday's attack, CNN reported Wednesday.
Vangheluwe and his family were urged by local police to temporarily avoid their home due to a slew of death threats that followed the false reports.
"It's been really bad. They've been terribly harassed," Andrew Sommerman, the family's attorney, told CNN. "The family has been devastated."
According to the news outlet, Vangheluwe tried to dispel the accusations on Facebook, noting that he doesn't drive a car like the one used in the attack and that he lives in Michigan.
"I'm not the one, i'm from f---ing Michigan you idiots," Vangeheluwe wrote on Facebook. "I drive a 2009 chevy impala, not a challenger, f--- the internet."
Local police officers confirmed the news to CNN and said that they had been forced to increase patrols in the area. Sommerman warned that this was an example of real-life "consequences" of the actions of internet sleuths.
"There are consequences to fake news," Sommerman told CNN. "There are consequences to false reporting."
"My message to those outlets is that if your words can cause great harm, and has caused great harm, you must suffer the consequences of the law as a result," the attorney added. "And the law does not tolerate this type of behavior."