Employees at a family-owned business in Gaithersburg, Maryland, say unwarranted negative reviews flooded its Facebook page after a video went viral of an ex-employee jumping off a dock in Florida and landing on a pelican.
Hunter Hardesty, 31, faces charges of animal cruelty and molesting a protected species after he posted a video of the apparent attack on March 7, the Monroe County Sheriff's Office said.
Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay says the video shows Hardesty jump off the edge of the harbor in the Florida Keys and grab the pelican. The bird then nipped at Hardesty and got away unharmed.
After the post, outraged viewers quickly noticed Hardesty, of Davidsonville, Maryland, lists JW Frew Electric as his employer on Facebook.
The business received a slew of negative reviews and messages. But the business says Hardesty hasn't worked there for nearly four years.
"And people, were just saying hateful things I don't even want to repeat because they think we are associated with this man," Britanny Frew said.
"We donated to the wildlife foundation in Key West Florida to show that we have no - we don't agree with his behavior," Jamie Frew said.
Another post on Hardesty's Facebook says, "I'm so hungry I could eat a pelican!!!"
In one photo found on his page he is holding a baby deer. Another shows him holding a bird by the neck while standing on a boat.
Florida authorities said they are investigating to determine if there will be more charges.
"This person has continued to show no remorse for his actions on his Facebook. Almost seems to be taunting and laughing," Ramsay said.
At Hardesty's home in Davidsonville, Maryland, his father told News4 he's received threatening phone calls since the viral video of his son.
"I'm getting life threats," he said.
He said his son is a fisherman and would never do anything to hurt a pelican. He said if there is a warrant issued for his son's arrest he would drive Hardesty to Florida to turn him in.