Atlanta police cleared the man suspected of threatening two gay bars and said the man who vowed on social media to make them “the next Orlando” is actually someone who knows the original suspect and stole his identity.
“The original individual that was on the post is not the author of those tweets and did not make those comments, based on our investigation so far,” said Major Paul Guerrucci (photo) of the Atlanta Police Department. “We have dispelled that through our investigation.
The formal announcement by Atlanta police during a press conference Thursday clears Brett Thomas Edgerton, an Atlanta man who was originally suspected of being behind the Twitter account @BrettTEdgerton. In the wake of the gay nightclub massacre in Orlando, a series of tweets from that account threatened a similar attack on Blake's and Ten.
In April, a series of tweets from the same account also threatened LGBT people in Atlanta.
Police are now focusing their investigation on a second man who they believe stole Edgerton's identity and created the tweets. That man and Edgerton knew one another and the tweets grew out of a personal dispute, Guerrucci said.
“We believe that there is a relationship between the person who actually generated those posts. A common term for it would be doxing. That's what we believe this case is actually about,” he said.
Doxxing is when someone maliciously publishes personal information about another person on the Internet.
Police have talked with the second man and he could face misdemeanor charges in the case, Guerrucci said. Police did not name the suspect or say if he and Edgerton were romantically involved.
“We have talked with the individuals that we believe are responsible for this and it seems to be more of a personal issue between two individuals that escalated into this post,” Guerrucci said.
On Wednesday and again on Thursday, Atlanta police said their investigation determined that the threats against the bars are not credible. That came after investigators questioned Edgerton on Tuesday and since, have made contact with the person suspected of posting in Edgerton's name, Guerrucci said.
“It is still an ongoing investigation and we still have a lot of work to do,” Guerrucci said.