APD says "Orlando-style" social media threat stemmed from feud

ATLANTA — Channel 2 Action News has learned about challenges Atlanta police are having tracking down online threats like the one involving the local gay community we first reported about on Wednesday.

As the horror of what happened in Orlando still echoes, one might wonder why somebody would use that tragedy to advance a personal beef or grudge.%

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But Atlanta Police Maj.  Paul Guerrucci, who is overseeing the investigation into some tweets calling for an “Orlando-like” event at two Atlanta gay bars, says he believes that is what happened.

“The man whose name was on the tweets, did he actually post it?” Channel 2 investigative reporter Mark Winne asked Guerrucci.

“At this point in our investigation, we do not believe that he did. We have reason to believe that another individual assumed his identity, created that and posted it. The common term: doxing,” Guerrucci said. Doxing, which gets its name from the word "documents," is a technique of tracing someone or gathering information about someone using the internet.

“We don't feel that it's a credible threat, though, against the businesses,” Guerrucci said.%

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Those messages, he says, appear to stem from a personal issue between the man whose name was on the tweets, apparently without his knowledge, and somebody else.

“Have Atlanta police investigators now interviewed the person you believe really posted?" Winne asked Guerrucci.

“We have been in contact with an individual that we feel made the post. It’s still an ongoing investigation,” Guerrucci said.

Guerrucci is the commander of the Atlanta police Special Enforcement Division. He indicated the threatening messages posted on social media concerning Atlanta’s gay community do not appear to be legitimate threats.

But he wants the public to get a message from him:

“We really do need the help of the citizens,” Guerrucci said.

Guerrucci suggested, in the wake of the terrorist massacre in Orlando, he wants citizens to call in possible threats, warning signs or suspicious activity folks may pick up on, even though the investigation of those social media messages concerning the local gay community tied up lots of resources.

Guerrucci told Winne that his Homeland Security unit and the FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force did the heavy lifting on that part of the investigation, but the Police Departments' Homeland Security unit also ran down a phoned-in tip about the Trump rally in Atlanta Wednesday, which involved someone supposedly talking about buying ammo for an AK-47 to deal with demonstrators.

“It was basically somebody who just said something that that he probably shouldn't have said,” Guerrucci said.

Guerrucci said the Trump rally threat also proved bogus, but had to be thoroughly investigated in today's environment.