The family of a US Marine killed in Afghanistan are suing Alec Baldwin, alleging the actor exposed them to a flood of social media hatred by through false claims on Instagram.
They allege Baldwin falsely labelled one sister one as "insurrectionist" for attending former President Donald Trump's Washington DC rally on the same day as the Capitol Riots - January 6.
Despite her attendance at the rally, Roice McCollum was found to have protested peacefully and legally and did not storm the US Capitol.
An interview with the FBI confirmed that McCollum, "was never detained, arrested, accused of or charged with any crime," according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit comes as Baldwin is immersed in an ongoing investigation into the death of a cinematographer and the wounding of a director last fall after a prop gun the actor was holding on a movie set went off.
How is Alec Baldwin allegedly linked to the McCollum family?
Baldwin's communication with the McCollum family began with a donation of a $5,000 (€4,410) cheque to help the widow of deceased marine, 20-year-old Rylee McCollum, who was among 13 US soldiers killed in a suicide bombing August 26 at the Kabul airport during the takeover of the Taliban.
But this was not the last the family heard from the actor.
On January 3 of this year, the lawsuit says, the actor privately messaged Rylee's sister, Roice McCollum, on Instagram soon after she posted an almost year-old photo of the Trump rally.
He asked if she was the same woman who'd taken his donation, to which Roice confirmed and told Baldwin: "Protesting is perfectly legal."
The suit says Baldwin responded by remarking that "her activities resulted in the unlawful destruction of government property, the death of a law enforcement officer, an assault on the certification of the presidential election," and told McCollum that he'd reposted the photo to his 2.4 million Instagram followers.
"Good luck," Baldwin wrote, according to the lawsuit.
Baldwin 'lit the match and blew on the fire' says lawyer
"Baldwin plainly ignored Roice's denial of rioting and the assertion that she was cleared by the FBI for participating in any of the conduct Baldwin chose to falsely attribute to her via his massive following," the lawsuit reads.
After Baldwin shared the photo of the January 6 protest on social media, Roice McCollum got "hundreds upon hundreds of hateful messages," including one telling her to "get raped and die" and that her brother "got what he deserved," according to the lawsuit.
In a post under his Instagram account, @alecbaldwininsta, Baldwin called that message "abhorrent," and told Roice McCollum, "There are hateful things posted toward you that are wrong," according to computer screenshots filed in the case.
The lawsuit says Baldwin didn't do anything to remedy the situation, however. And by sharing the photo, he "lit the match and blew on the fire," resulting in the hateful messages and death threats not only against Roice McCollum but also against Rylee McCollum's other sister, Cheyenne McCollum, and widow, Jiennah McCollum.
The lawsuit alleges invasion of privacy, defamation, negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress and seeks $25 million (€22 million) in damages.
Jiennah McCollum gave birth to her late husband's daughter in September. Online fundraisers have raised around $1 million (€880,000) for the widow and child.
On Friday, Baldwin surrendered his cellphone to authorities investigating a fatal shooting on a film set in New Mexico last fall. Baldwin's prop revolver discharged a live round during a rehearsal, killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza, according to authorities.