A fake article that claimed a video showing the brutal beating of a homeless man at a gas station in the Olney section of Philadelphia last year was actually a homeless veteran being beaten to death by anti-Trump protesters has been taken down by the Christian Times website.
The article used a different victim's name and said the man died early Saturday after being beaten by people protesting Donald Trump's election. It claimed the protesters were trying to set an American flag on fire when the victim yelled at them to stop.
The video shown with the story, however, was actually that of the brutal beating of Robert Barnes — who was not a veteran and who was not beaten by anti-Trump protesters.
Barnes was attacked outside the Sunoco gas station on 5th Street near Somerville Avenue at about 6:40 p.m. April 7, 2015, allegedly by three women and three juveniles. The assault landed him in a coma.
Barnes, 51, died seven months later, on Nov. 25, at Abington Hospital-Jefferson Health.
Diane Barnes, of Plymouth Meeting, one of Barnes' sisters, said Tuesday that she learned of the fake story Sunday when it was posted on her Facebook page by a friend.
"My first reaction was shock, disbelief. I couldn't believe they could use such a heartwrenching story about our family … and use it in another story," Diane Barnes said.
"What troubles me," she said, "is what did this prove, what was gained in this? This affected a family in a terrible, terrible tragedy. What did they expect when they posted something like this? What was their expectations?"
By Wednesday morning, the "Rep. Trey Gowdy for Speaker of the House" Facebook page had been removed. The fake article about the beating at the Olney gas station on the Christian Times Newspaper website had also been taken down.
As for the real attack on Robert Barnes, three women—Aleathea Gillard, 35; Kaisha Duggins, 25; and Shareena Joachim, 24 — face a March 20 trial on murder and related charges.
Three juveniles — two boys and a girl — pleaded guilty earlier this year to charges of third-degree murder and conspiracy in Family Court and were sentenced under plea deals to placements at residential juvenile facilities, which focus on rehabilitation and treatment.
Gillard allegedly led the attack on Barnes after her 10-year-old son claimed that Barnes hit him. That was a lie — Barnes did not hit the boy, authorities have said.