Over two days earlier this month, 19-year-old Michigan resident Brandon Griesemer made close to two dozen menacing calls to CNN’s Atlanta headquarters. He threatened to kill everyone in the building in several of those calls, according to court documents filed Friday.
“Fake news,” he allegedly told an operator on Jan. 9 at 3:06 p.m., upon first making contact. “I’m coming to gun you all down. Fuck you, fuckin’ ni***rs.”
Around half an hour later, he rambled slightly: “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.”
Trump has repeatedly tweeted and retweeted, to his tens of millions of followers, images showing CNN being hit by a train, body slammed, and clinging to the bottom of his shoe. CNN was the most medaled honoree at Trump’s virtual Fake News Awards, coming away with four of the top 11 spots. On Tuesday, Trump renewed his attacks.
Later on Jan. 9, an investigator hired by CNN traced the calls to a number registered to Griesemer’s father. It turned out to be the same number that Griesemer had used to call the Islamic Center of Ann Arbor in September and make derogatory comments about Muslims, according to police records cited in the same court documents.
Ann Arbor police spoke to Griesemer’s mother after that incident, the court documents said, and urged her to have him call them. He did, acknowledging that he had called the mosque “and that he was angry at the time of the call.”
The CNN investigator found another number associated with Griesemer’s father’s on Jan. 9, called it, and recorded a conversation with a man with the same voice as the person who threatened the CNN operator. The man identified himself as Brandon to the investigator, the court documents said.
The next day, Griesemer called CNN again, promising a “team of people” on their way to Atlanta.
“It’s going to be great, man,” he told the operator. “You gotta get prepared for this one, buddy.”
The threats were not actionable, a man who claimed to be Griesemer’s father told the Washington Post.
“[T]his whole thing has been a mistake,” Griesemer’s father said. “He really didn’t mean any of it.”
“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,” he added. “More will come out later. Hopefully, this can be settled.”
CNN said in a statement that it takes threats to its employees “extremely seriously.”
WGCL, which first reported Griesemer’s arrest, noted he had been released on a $10,000 unsecured bond.
This post has been updated.