NYPD to Quiz Owner of Twitter Account With Theater Threat

The New York City Police Department will interview the owner of a Twitter account on which someone posted a threat to kill patrons of a Broadway theater, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said.

The NYPD on Aug. 3 discovered the messages threatening audience members at the Longacre Theater on West 48th Street in Manhattan, where “Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth,” a one-man show featuring boxer Mike Tyson and directed by Spike Lee, is currently running, Paul Browne, an NYPD spokesman, said in an interview.

The NYPD asked the social-networking service to identify the holder of the account and Twitter refused, saying the case didn’t fall under its disclosure policy, Browne said. The NYPD then asked Manhattan District Cyrus Vance’s office to request a subpoena compelling Twitter to release the information. A judge signed the order and the company complied, Browne said.

Twitter last month appealed a New York state judge’s order to give prosecutors information about an Occupy Wall Street protester’s posts. The company has said the case will determine when and whether it must respond to subpoenas for its users. The American Civil Liberties Union said in a May 31 court filing that the litigation has national implications as law enforcement becomes more aggressive in seeking information about what people do and say on the Internet.

Carolyn Penner, a spokeswoman for the San Francisco-based company, declined to comment on the case in an e-mail.

‘Common Sense’

“We think in an instance like this common sense would dictate that we get that sort of information,” Kelly told reporters after a news conference. “Certainly this message referred to Aurora, referred to a specific location. This is the type of thing that a law enforcement agency needs to know.”

One of the messages threatened that people at the theater were going to “die like Aurora” -- a reference to last month’s mass shooting at a Colorado movie theater where 12 people died and at least 58 were injured, Browne said.

The NYPD dispatched extra officers to patrol the theater and plans to soon interview the person who holds the account, Kelly said. The individual isn’t in New York City, he said.

The person who sent the messages could face charges such as reckless endangerment, Kelly said. It’s possible someone other than the owner was using the account, he said.

“When we get a message like that, we have to react to it, find out where it came from and deploy additional resources,” Kelly said.


Twitter provides real-time messaging and allows users to make posts that are broadcast to people who sign up to follow them.

There were no problems during last night’s performance of Tyson’s show, which began July 31 and is scheduled to run through Aug. 12, Lisa Spagnuolo, a spokeswoman for the Shubert Organization, which operates the Longacre, said in a telephone interview.

“We are aware of the Twitter threat and have communicated with the appropriate law enforcement agencies,” the Shubert Organization said in a statement. “We are taking all appropriate actions under the circumstances.”

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