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Vigilantes attack homeless man after fake Facebook warning

MODESTO, Calif. -- A false Facebook post in California lead to the beating of an innocent homeless man, CBS Sacramento KOVR reports.

The post warned Modesto, California residents that a local homeless man was trying to assault women and break into homes. People were urged to share the post, that included the mans description and location. The post went viral.

The Modesto Police say the post wasn't true, and as a result, the homeless man was a victim of crime when a group of men decided to take the law into their own hands. Police say the group of vigilantes who had seen the post jumped and assaulted him.

"The whole area was in a panic, and my boyfriend was like, no you have to drive to work, and I'll pick you up," resident Hope Davis told KOVR.

Davis once had contact with the man. She says the man knocked on her front door one afternoon asking to borrow blankets on a hot day.

"He just left," she said. "There was no aggression other than you know than the fact it was a little creepy."

Police had told the author to take her original post down.

"She was a friend of a friend of a friend who posted this information on Facebook," police spokeswoman Heather Graves explained.

KOVR reports that in a Facebook video the homeless man admits asking people for money, but insists he has never hurt anyone. Police say he's homeless and may have mental-health issues. On the Modesto Police Facebook page, people claim to have had run-ins with the man where he has scared them or made them uncomfortable.

Police say they do have reports of him verbally harassing people while panhandling and also have reports of him trying to open doors on private property.

"We're all for warning others of crimes, but you know we want the correct information to get out," Graves said.

Police say the man suffered some minor cuts from the attack, but he declined medical attention.

He decided not to press charges against his attackers. As a result, police say they consider the case closed.

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