A Novi man was arrested last week and now faces federal criminal charges following an FBI investigation alleging he called CNN Atlanta headquarters several times with threats to “gun down” employees for presenting “fake news.”
According to federal court documents filed by the Eastern District of Michigan, 19-year-old Brandon Griesemer was arrested January 19 for a federal threatening charge. He has also been charged with interstate communications with intent to extort.
Griesemer made 22 calls (including four that contained explicit threats) to the news network on January 9 and January 10. A CNN investigator later became involved, tracking the threatening calls back and eventually reaching a man who identified himself as Brandon. The investigator recorded the call, compared them to previous calls, and believed it was the same person for all of them.
In a statement to The Washington Post, Griesemer’s father, Mark Griesemer, said, “This whole thing has been a mistake, 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. More will come out later. Hopefully, this can be settled.”
Brandon Griesemer also made an anti-Muslim phone call to the Islamic Center of Ann Arbor on September 19, 2017, according to court documents. During that call, made from the same cell phone number that the FBI says was used to make the CNN threats, Griesemer “made derogatory comments relating to the mosque and Muslims.”
He was investigated by police, but has not been charged in that case because no specific threats were made. Ann Arbor Police Detective Matthew Lige told MLive.com that it appeared no crime was committed and Griesemer “did not present a danger” to the Muslim community.
The network released a statement about the threats on Monday night, stating: “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.”