Identity Theft Victim... Mistaken for Deadly Cop Killer

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Last night Jim Defede and CBS4 News out of Miami aired an exclusive interview with Kevin Wehner the victim of an identity theft whose picture was mistakenly released to the national news in search of a cop killer. The Suspect had gone on a shooting rampage that in the end left one dead and three other officers wounded.

Those of us in South Florida, vividly remember the events of that horrific day. Though the news was national, locally our schools, streets and neighborhoods were on lock-down while hundreds of enforcement agencies frantically combed neighborhoods from the air and ground searching for Kevin Wehner, the person who police were told was responsible for the deadly shooting. Police and the rest of the nation would soon learn that Kevin Wehner was more than 350 miles away from the crime -but not before losing precious time in looking for the real perpetrator. When Kevin's name and picture were released to the media -the media began looking into Kevin's criminal history. They were surprised to see -there was none.

At that moment, my gut churned as I began criminal history...yet he gunned down three police officers -could it be possible they were searching for the wrong guy? Could this guy, whose picture was all over the news, be a victim of identity theft? I soon found out that my gnawing gut feeling was right -he was.

Suddenly -the picture of the killer they were looking for -the one that was mistakenly plastered and frozen on every local, and soon national, TV channel -was replaced with a new picture -one that had a new name and description of the killer police were searching for.

As things were happening so quickly, there continued to be some confusion as to why the police suddenly released a completely different description and picture of the real killer... and soon we were informed why. Ultimately, the police had been intentionally misled by the girlfriend of the "real" killer. She gave them the name and fake drivers license of Kevin innocent identity theft victim.

At that point, I couldn't help but fear for the real Kevin Wehner -knowing that this man had been labeled a vicious cop killer that had just gone on a wild shooting rampage. Seeing his name frozen on the TV screen had a particular chilling effect on me -personally. The name -Wehner, though not a common name to most - was very familiar to me. Wehner is my family name -one I grew up with for many years.

I began worrying about what could happen to Kevin if he was seen simply walking down the street and unaware that in every corner of the State, in the air and on the ground, devastated police officers were on the hunt for a cop killer?

As it turns out, Kevin was over 350 miles away in Jacksonville. He found out about the dragnet and the horrific events unfolding in South Florida as friends and family began calling him. The most difficult call for Kevin was the one from his Mom calling from as far away as New York. Her voice was shaking and in tears - she relayed that his picture was plastered all over the news ...and he was being called a Cop Killer.

Kevin knew that months earlier he was a victim of identity theft. He had been struggling to clear his credit identity and had filed various police reports and requests for investigation with the Department of Motor Vehicles. He knew his credit had been ruined -but now he was being called a killer. He feared for his life and the lives of his family. He decided to contact the Jacksonville police right away. He told him he was aware of what was happening in South Florida and relayed he was in Jacksonville and informed them he was a victim of identity theft and had filed numerous reports with their department. They quickly descended on his house with guns drawn, placed him in the cruiser and took him away -while his family watched in horror.

Hear in Kevin's own words how this tragic chain of events has changed his life forever.

Watch the CBS 4 video here

Part II airs tonight.

Tips to keep your identity safe

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