How a Facebook Joke Made One Guy San Francisco’s Public Enemy No. 1

by windowsiso on October 30, 2012

The photo that angered a city. Photo: Susana Bates

The Giants’ World Series win was great news for San Francisco. Not so great: the post-game revelry that led to the destruction of public and private property. (The building where Wired is located suffered more than a dozen smashed windows.) One photo of an unidentified man destroying a Muni bus united the city in a quest for mass-transit justice. And it taught a recently identified man that pretending to be that vandal on Facebook is not so smart.

The photo in question went viral pretty quickly, at least around the Bay Area. Reddit has a thread dedicated to finding the man in the photo. Even I retweeted it. San Francisco resident Tony Lukezic saw it Monday night after some people pointed out that he looked like the vandal. “A couple of my buddies said, ‘Hey, this guy looks like you,’” Lukezic told Wired. Instead of just laughing the resemblance off, Lukezic switched out his profile picture with the offending photo and began to boast that he was indeed the bus smasher. It seemed funny right up to the point that someone took a screen grab of conversation under the profile pic and posted it to Twitter.

A few hours later, the screen grab wound up on the Facebook page of a San Francisco nightclub called Red Devil Lounge, where commenters began posting Lukezic’s phone number, information about what sort of car he drives, and pictures of him and his son. He also started receiving anonymous messages from outraged citizens. “I got text messages like, ‘Man I know who you are, I’m going to get you and your family,’” Lukezic said. ”Anyone who knows me knows I’m not even like that.”

Of course, this was all getting out in front of people who don’t know Tony. All they saw was a man destroying city property and then a man that resembled that person boasting about his bus-smashing ways.

When I called Lukezic he had hoped that I was the police so he could clear his name in case anyone had reported him. He says that’s why he’s left his phone number on his profile page. ”Everybody’s saying we’re going to forward your number to the San Francisco Police Department,” he told Wired. “I said that’s fine.”

Lukezic said he left his house about 15 minutes after the game ended to meet with friends at the Brisbane Inn in Brisbane, just south of San Francisco. He left the bar around midnight. Wired has been unable to contact the friends Lukezic was with that night. But if it does become a police matter, Lukezic is hoping that cell-tower triangulation will show that he was in Brisbane during the riot. And just to be safe, he planned to go to the Brisbane Police Department after work on Tuesday.

There’s the hair. Photo: Susana Bates

Regardless, the photographic evidence would seem to back up his story that this was just a joke gone wrong. ”This guy has hair,” explained the balding Lukezic. “I shave my head.” Another picture of the assailant does indeed show hair peeking out from under his Giants cap.

A video of the bus assault shows the attacker entering the crowd on the right after hitting the bus with the fence.

The Red Devil Lounge has removed comments from the photo that name Lukezic or contain any of his personal information. Red Devil Lounge owner Jay Siegan told Wired via email: “I’m not ok with someone making threats to this man on my Facebook page. No way. People were starting to post personal information up about him. Looking at the face of the perpetrator on SFGate, it clearly isn’t this fellow named Tony Lukezic, who made a poor choice to pretend it was him on his Facebook page.”

Lukezic agrees. “It sucks for 15 minutes of fame,” he said. “Lesson learned. Some people take shit way too seriously.”

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