Man says he was arrested by mistake instead of man with similar name

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GASTONIA, N.C. - A man said he was arrested by mistake instead of a man who has a very similar name. 

Jonathan Ray said he has never committed a crime, so he was shocked when police knocked on his door in October with a warrant for his arrest.

“The most frustrating part was being arrested in front of my son,” he said.

He said it's something his 10-year-old son will never forget.

Then, his mug shot appeared in local newspapers and online for a burglary he never committed. He said people at his son's school, where he volunteers, saw it.

“Even people at the schoolhouse, you know, thought of me different,” Ray said.

Ray said he told Gastonia police over and over again they had the wrong guy.

Weeks later, the charge was dropped because prosecutors realized the Jonathan Wray they were after spells his last name with a "W."

Eyewitness News took his mug shot to the burglary victim.

“No, I have never seen this guy before,” Harvey Warlick said.

Warlick said he should know. The real suspect, he said, lives down the street from him.

He said he confronted the suspect after he kicked open his back door and broke into his home.

“I walked into the living room, and he was disconnecting my TV,” Warlick said.

He said he identified the right man for police.

“I don't see how they could have made a mistake this bad,” Warlick said.

He said he got a good look at the suspect not once, but twice.

Warlick said there is no way he would mistake the identities, because Jonathan Wray, the man he said he saw standing in his living room, came back, apologized and even offered to pay for damages to his door.

Gastonia police sent Eyewitness News a statement that said in part, “We obviously care about any allegation of misidentification in an arrest."

Police say Warlick identified the wrong man, then recanted.