On Jan. 9, an operator in Atlanta manning the public contact number for CNN received a phone call. According to a federal arrest affidavit unsealed Monday, the male caller launched into a threat.
“Fake news. I’m coming to gun you all down. F‑‑‑ you, f‑‑‑ing n‑‑‑‑‑s.” The caller then clicked off.
Three minutes later, the same caller, dialing from the same number, again rang the CNN line. “I am on my way right now to gun the f‑‑‑in’ CNN cast down. F‑‑‑ you,” the caller said. The operator asked the caller his name. “F‑‑‑ you,” he responded. “I am coming to kill you.”
Thirty minutes later, the caller again reached the CNN public switchboard. He whispered his threats. “I’m coming for you CNN. I’m smarter than you. More powerful than you. I have more guns than you. More manpower. Your cast is about to get gunned down in a matter of hours.”
According to federal law enforcement, the man on the other end was Brandon Griesemer of Novi, Mich.
In an arrest affidavit released Monday, FBI agent Sean Callaghan wrote that Griesemer “made approximately 22 total calls to CNN” between Jan. 9 and Jan. 10. Four of the calls resulted in threats. In the last message, the caller made disparaging remarks about Jewish individuals, before stating: “You are going down. I have a gun and I am coming to Georgia right now to go to the CNN headquarters to f‑‑‑ing gun every single last one of you. I have a team of people. It’s going to be great, man . . . You gotta get prepared for this one, buddy.”
Court records indicate Griesemer was arrested on a charge of interstate communications with intent to extort, threaten or injure. He made an initial appearance in court on Jan. 19.
Griesemer is currently free on a $10,000 unsecured bond.
On Monday night, a man who identified himself as Griesemer’s father told The Washington Post that “this whole thing has been a mistake. He really didn’t mean any of it.” Griesemer’s father added: “He didn’t know what he was saying, the seriousness of it. We’re not even gun owners or anything like that. We don’t have any, neither does he.”
The father declined to comment further. “More will come out later. Hopefully, this can be settled.”
The threats were made public less than a week after President Trump unveiled his “Fake News Awards.” The term, trumpeted by the president in his frequent clashes with the press, has become a popular rallying cry among Trump’s base. CNN has been a regular target of the president’s “fake news” attacks; the president has also shared violent images featuring the cable news giant, including pictures of the CNN logo crushed under a shoe and a GIF of the president personally attacking the CNN logo.
On Monday night, CNN released a statement about the threats. “We take any threats to CNN employees or workplaces, around the world, extremely seriously. This one is no exception. We have been in touch with local and federal law enforcement throughout, and have taken all necessary measures to ensure the safety of our people.”
Public records indicate Griesemer was born in 1998.
According to the arrest affidavit, an investigator working for CNN originally traced the threatening calls back to Griesemer. The number allegedly used in the threats traced back to Brandon Griesemer’s father and an affiliated wireless number.
At one point, the investigator called the number and spoke with someone who identified himself as “Brandon.” The investigator recorded the conversation, then compared the audio with the recordings of the threatening CNN calls. “The voices sounded like the same individual,” the affidavit states.
This was not the first time Griesemer allegedly made threatening phone calls.
The arrest affidavit notes that on Sept. 19, an employee of the Islamic Center of Ann Arbor received a phone call. The male caller “made derogatory comments relating to the mosque and Muslims.” Police tracked the number to the Griesemer house. In a phone call with police, Griesemer “stated that he had called the mosque on September 19, and that he was angry at the time of the call.”
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