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‘This Story Has F***ed My Life Up’: Twitter Mob Misidentifies U.S. Capitol Suspect

"It's eye-opening how terrifying social media can be when something like this happens."
Security forces clash with US President Donald Trumps supporters after they breached the US Capitol security in Washington D.C., United States on January 06, 2021. Pro-Trump rioters stormed the US Capitol as lawmakers were set to sign off Wednesday on President-elect Joe Biden's electoral victory in what was supposed to be a routine process headed to Inauguration Day.
Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

A retired Chicago firefighter, misidentified by the Twitter mob as being a man who used a fire extinguisher to attack a cop at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, has been targeted with threats and people calling him a terrorist.

Twitter at first publicized photos of the alleged perpetrator:

But later more details emerged:

David Quintavalle was nowhere near the U.S. Capitol on January 6. He went grocery shopping in the morning and cooked supper for his wife’s birthday that evening, where they were joined by their son, a police officer. He only discovered the Twitter mob was after him when a friend alerted him.

Quintavalle said, “I got a phone call from a friend who said, ‘You should see what they twittered about you,’ adding, ‘Some woman from British Columbia showed the [surveillance] picture of the guy wearing CFD stocking cap and a beard like I’ve had, and file footage when I was protesting the city inappropriately scoring the fire lieutenants exam, and said, ‘This is the guy.’ And the ball started rolling. Everybody started saying, ‘Here’s the guy.'”

“Soon, social media filled with details about Quintavalle’s personal life, including his appearance at a ‘Walk To Support CPD’ rally in Mount Greenwood in August to support his namesake son, an Englewood District police officer who still lives at home,” Patch reported. “… By Tuesday night, Quintavalle began getting angry calls from people saying he’s a ‘f***ing murderer’ who belongs in jail. TV news reporters had staked out his house. Chicago police dispatched a patrol car to keep watch overnight, as well, his lawyer said.”

One person wrote on Twitter, “I am amazed at the number of bots with practically no followers coming out of the woodwork saying it’s not David Quintavalle.” Another added,  “And his son is a cop. If David Quintavalle is the guy — a retired firefighter who threw a fire extinguisher at a cop — the irony would be just too much.”

Quintavalle said, “This story has f***ed my life up.”

Quintavalle’s attorney, John Nisivaco, told Patch he gave the DOJ and FBI evidence proving Quintavalle was in Chicago on January 6. He stated:

I expect the federal government will soon shed light on this case of mistaken identity. Social media has killed David Quintavalle. This has been an absolute disaster to him personally and his family. There’s a cop car outside his house. It’s over a picture that kind of looks like him because people sitting behind a keyboard with no proof or evidence are throwing out these tweets, and they’re wrong. Holy smokes, it’s eye-opening how terrifying social media can be when something like this happens.

As reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer, the FBI announced Thursday that a retired Pennsylvania firefighter, Robert Sanford, 55, was arrested and now faces three felony charges, including assaulting an officer, for allegedly throwing a fire extinguisher at a Capitol police officer. “The projectile he is accused of throwing was not the one that killed Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who was also struck in the head by a fire extinguisher during the melee and later died from his injuries, authorities said,” the outlet notes.

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