An Ohio mother named Michelle Gregg began receiving harassment from social media vigilantes after a 4-year-old boy fell into a gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo, prompting officials to shoot it.
However, they were going after the wrong Michelle Gregg. She shares the same name with the 4-year-old boy’s mother, and both are from Ohio.
She posted a picture that read: “This Michelle has never even been to the Cincinnati Zoo! … Neither has my 5-year-old son!”
Gregg posted screenshots of some of the abuse she received.
“Ur scum u need ur kids taking off u sick [expletive] u should’ve been shot dirty selfish [expletive],” one woman told the wrong Gregg in Facebook private message. Another added: “U are a [expletive] killer!!!!”
She remained polite, telling at least one of them to have a “blessed day,” saying “I’m not ‘that’ Michelle,” reported the New York Daily News.
According to People magazine, the other Michelle Gregg—the one whose boy fell into the gorilla enclosure—issued a comment on Facebook before she deleted it. “As a society we are quick to judge how a parent could take their eyes off of their child and if anyone knows me I keep a tight watch on my kids, Accidents happen,” she said. “God protected my child until the authorities were able to get to him. My son is safe and was able to walk away with a concussion and a few scrapes… no broken bones or internal injuries,” she added.
Many on social media websites, and petition website Change.org, are calling for child services to investigate the mother. The petition has garnered well over 100,000 signatures.
The boy went under a rail, through wires, and fell into a moat. The 450-pound gorilla, Harambe, reportedly dragged him around for several minutes before the zoo decided to use lethal force.
The Cincinnati Zoo, meanwhile, defended shooting and killing the gorilla, saying that officials “would make the same decision” again.
“That child’s life was in danger. People who question that don’t understand you can’t take a risk with a silverback gorilla—this is a dangerous animal,” Cincinnati Zoo Director Thane Maynard told reporters. “Looking back, we’d make the same decision. The child is safe.”
Maynard also called out “Monday morning quarterbacks and second-guessers” who “don’t understand silverback gorillas” and primate biology.