A Michigan man who claimed to expose alleged child predators online for his thousands of social media followers was shot and killed after confronting two teenagers late Friday night, according to police.
Robert Wayne Lee, 40, would pose as a 15-year-old girl online to lure out and expose suspected pedophiles, the Oakland County sheriff’s office said in a news release.
He published videos of his exploits to over 11,000 followerson Facebookand over 45,000 followers on Instagram. Some of those videos appear to show him engaging in violent confrontations with alleged predators.
Lee confronted two teenagers Friday night – a 17- and 18-year-old – at a restaurant in Pontiac. He accused one of being a pedophile and punched him, according to the police news release.
The teen who was punched pulled out a knife, and the other – suspected to be the 17-year-old – shot Lee several times with a pistol, according to police. He was taken to the hospital and later died of his injuries.
The suspects fled but were arrested Saturday afternoon, police say. The sheriff’s office has not released their names.
Although Lee’s “one-man crusade has led to the arrest and criminal charges being filed against several men,” police said in the release, “he has also mistakenly identified someone as a sexual predator who was not.”
“While we certainly understand his desire to hold child predators accountable, many times well intentioned individuals who engaged in this don’t know the standard of evidence required for convictions and often underestimate the potential for violence confronting a suspected predator,” Sheriff Michael Bouchard said.
Detectives were expected to turn the case over to prosecutors for charges by Monday, police said.
In at least one case, Lee’s endeavors led to a former police officer facing charges, a police department spokesperson told CNN.
A verified GoFundMedescribes Lee as “a true hometown hero” who is survived by a daughter. The money raised will go toward Lee’s funeral and his daughter, to provide “her with the opportunities and education that Robert dreamt of for her,” the fundraiser says.