US plumber sues after truck shown with Syria militants

16.12.2015

A Texas plumber whose truck ended up in the hands of militants in Syria is suing the dealership he sold it to, after a photo of the pickup with a flaming anti-aircraft gun in the bed and his logo on the door went viral. Mark Oberholtzer said his company has received thousands of angry and threatening phone calls since a photo of the Ford F-250 pickup truck was posted on Twitter in December last year by a member of a jihadist group operating near Aleppo.

The expletive-filled calls were so disturbing that Oberholtzer shut his business down and stayed away from his home in Texas City for more than a week, according to a lawsuit filed in Harris County last week. Oberholtzer also began carrying a gun after agents from Homeland Security and the FBI warned that he needed to "protect himself" because "there are crazy people out there."

He is seeking more than $1 million in compensation for the damage to his business and reputation. The lawsuit claims that a salesman at Autonation Ford Gulf Freeway in Houston stopped Oberholtzer from peeling the decal off the door when he traded the old truck in for a new one. The salesman allegedly said he was concerned Oberholtzer would damage the paint and explained he had something that would do a better job of removing the decal.

The decal with his business name and phone number was not removed, however, before it was sold at auction and shipped to Turkey. Oberholtzer said his firm Mark-1 Plumbing received over 1,000 phone calls in the first day after the photo went viral.

The calls kept coming at a rate of 100-200 a day for about three weeks and have continued at a slower pace to this day, the lawsuit alleges.    (AFP)

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