May 2023 TorchStone Global Monthly Executive Protection Report
TorchStone Global believes that broader situational awareness and intelligence are key to providing quality executive protection—whether the principal is a Fortune 500 CEO, international movie star, or local city council member. With that in mind, we are launching our monthly executive protection report, cataloging incidents we have captured through our open-source searches that are relevant to the practice of executive protection. We hope the report will serve as a centralized source of threat activity to provide insight into current trends in threats to high-profile individuals.
For more information on customized threat tracking for at-risk individuals, threat assessments, executive protection, or other security services, please contact us.
During its inaugural month, the TorchStone Executive Protection Report tracked 22 domestic and 15 international security incidents or updates to prior incidents impacting high-profile individuals. We learned that the April murder of tech executive Bob Lee in San Francisco was apparently the result of a personal grievance rather than a random act of violence. There was also an alarming intrusion at the private residence of President Biden’s National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan, despite the presence of a Secret Service detail. Nobody was hurt in the incident and the motive remains unclear.
May 11, 2023: A security team working at Lady Gaga’s home in Malibu called police when they discovered an unauthorized person on her property. Police briefly detained the man but did not arrest him. He insisted that he was only dropping off flowers at the singer’s residence and did not intend any harm. The security team had apparently seen the man on her property before dropping off small gifts. Lady Gaga was at home at the time but remained inside during the ordeal. There were no injuries or damages.
May 15, 2023: Reality TV show and social media personality, Jojo Siwa, told her online followers that burglars broke into her Tarzana home, causing some property damage. Police have not revealed what was taken in the burglary due to ongoing investigation. Ms. Siwa was not at home at the time.
May 17, 2023: U.S. Representative Eric Swalwell (D-CA) shared threatening Twitter messages he received from former San Francisco 49ers player Bruce Miller to Capitol Police. According to the messages, Mr. Miller wrote, “Almost time !!! Would you rather Guantanamo or just execution [laughing emoji] fuckin traitor.” Mr. Miller confirmed that he sent the message but insisted that he was just “trolling” the U.S. Representative and that his comments were “harmless.” Mr. Miller has a violent criminal past, including assaulting his ex-fiancée.
May 24, 2023: The suspect charged with fatally stabbing tech executive Bob Lee in San Francisco in April pleaded not guilty. New images and details released in recent weeks suggest that the suspect, Nima Momeni, may have killed Bob Lee due to his relationship with Momeni’s sister. Mr. Momeni’s defense attorney claims that Mr. Lee’s death is a combination of accident and self-defense. Evidence increasingly rejects the original suspicions that the murder was a random act of street violence.
District of Columbia
May 16, 2023: The U.S. Secret Service is investigating an incident involving an intrusion at the home of President Biden’s national security advisor, Jake Sullivan, in late April, according to the Washington Post. According to government sources, an unidentified man entered the West End Washington, D.C. residence at approximately 3 am in late April. Despite having a 24-hour Secret Service detail stationed outside the home, Mr. Sullivan confronted the suspect inside his home and directed him to leave. There is no indication that the suspect meant any harm and may have been intoxicated during the incident.
May 16, 2023: Metro police are investigating Twitter post threatening a city event on the Mayor’s Twitter feed. A Twitter user responded to a Twitter post from the mayor’s office promoting an LGBTQ event with the post, “I’m gonna bomb it”. The Twitter user appears to live outside the United States and has made threats against high-profile individuals in the past, including President Joe Biden.
May 22, 2023: The U.S. Secret Service detained the driver of a rented moving truck that crashed into security barriers near the White House. Images from the scene at Lafayette Square showed a swastika flag on the ground near the truck shortly after the incident. Preliminary reports suggest that the driver crashed the truck intentionally, but a specific motive remains unclear. Nobody was hurt in the incident, but the crash did damage a perimeter barrier.
May 5, 2023: Prosecutors reached a plea deal with a man who stalked and attempted to kidnap wrestling personality Sonya Deville in Florida in 2020. A Florida court sentenced Phillip Arnold Thomas to 15 years in prison, another 15 years probation, and will have no contact with Deville or her family.
May 24, 2023: Former Chicago mayor, Lori Lightfoot, will have a smaller police protection detail in an attempt to free up police resources for patrols. Lightfoot’s security detail had once consisted of as many as 20 police officers.
May 19, 2023: A man who had threatened Wichita’s mayor in 2020 received a probation sentence for disorderly conduct, a lesser charge than what prosecutors were seeking. The suspect had sent messages indicating that he wanted to kidnap and kill Mayor Brandon Whipple over public health policies related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The suspect’s attorney had argued that his messages were protected under free speech.
May 17, 2023: Police arrested a delusional man who called 911 and threatened to kill a Carbon County Magisterial District Judge. When police located the caller and arrested him, he reiterated threats against the judge and insisted that once he killed the judge, “the real one will be reborn.”
May 2, 2023: Police arrested Harley Alcala as he was driving to a courthouse for a scheduled hearing after he had made social media threats against the judge and courthouse. Alcala allegedly posted on his Facebook account that if he didn’t get custody over his daughter that he would kill the judge presiding over his case and that he “wanted to see the courthouse shot up”. Alcala appeared in Chippewa County Court on May 4 facing charges of making terroristic threats, threats toward a judge, and attempted kidnapping in connection to a dispute over child custody rights. Bond is been reported to be $100,000 and a return court date is scheduled for June 13.
May 4, 2023: William C. Sappington is in jail after being charged with threatening to kill Republican Sen. Roger Wicker on April 26, 2023. Sappington has been charged with threatening to injure or kill a United States official. It’s been noted through Sappington’s criminal record he has a history of violence or use of weapons.
May 2, 2023: Transgender Montana state legislator, Zooey Zephyr, revealed that she was targeted in a “swatting” attack at her home in Missoula. “Swatting” is a disruptive and sometimes deadly pranking tactic where a caller falsely reports that a crime is happening at the target’s home, prompting an aggressive police response. No one was injured in the incident.
• 2017: A 28-year-old man was killed by police in Kansas from a swatting prank.
May 3, 2023: David Herrera, an unsuccessful Republican Township Council candidate, is facing a weapons charge after police discovered 17 large-capacity ammunition magazines at his residence. Herrera attracted official attention after allegedly threatening to “light up the Mayor and Town Council” after he lost a 2022 election that he claims was stolen. During a search of Herrera’s home, police found 17 high-capacity rifle magazines that are illegal under New Jersey law.
May 4, 2023: A court convicted Nathaniel Russell, a 59-year-old man from Atlantic City, for threatening and stalking former Egg Harbor Township judge Marc Nehmad between August 2021 and April 2022. Russell was originally arrested in 2021 but continued to harass Nehmad with phone calls. He is set to be sentenced on June 7 in Atlantic County Superior Court.
May 3, 2023: Las Vegas Police arrested Daniel Parson in connection with making a series of threats against various targets in Buffalo, New York, including the city’s mayor and his family. According to reports from federal authorities, in early May, Parson called the Buffalo Police Department threatening to “slaughter Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown and Brown’s family” and to “shoot up” a “fellowship church.” In a separate call, Parson threatened to carry out a mass shooting at an unspecified Tops grocery store.
• May 14, 2022: A mass shooter killed 10 people, all of them Black, at a Tops grocery store in Buffalo. Parson’s threats aligned with the first anniversary of that shooting.
May 17, 2023: Police arrested Geoffrey L. Irwin of Greece, NY after he allegedly threatened to shoot a judge. Irwin was arrested as he arrived at the Penfield Town Court for a previously scheduled hearing. Irwin was charged with making a terroristic threat, a felony, aggravated harassment, and making a threat of mass harm, both misdemeanors. Irwin was arraigned in Webster Town Court and remanded to the Monroe County Jail.
May 2, 2023: A visiting judge has upheld the temporary restraining order against Struthers Municipal Judge Dominic Leone, who is accused of making threats towards Struthers Mayor Cat Cercone Miller during the May 2 primary election. Witnesses accused the judge of being “mentally unstable,” “erratic,” calling the mayor a “fat bitch,” and threatening to “get rowdy” with her.
May 5, 2023: A court has ordered Jarrid B. Huber to pay a $20,000 fine for threatening Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and causing damage during a protest in downtown Portland in May 2021, has been ordered to pay $20,000 for the destruction. Huber pleaded guilty to charges of arson, criminal mischief, riot, and harassment for his actions in May 2021 and for posting the video demanding the mayor’s resignation “or else.”
May 5, 2023: Gerald Allen Gregg appeared in court on charges that he threatened a judge who sentenced him on previous offenses and returned to the Washington County Courthouse where that judge presided in March 2023. Gregg allegedly visited the courthouse multiple times in late March and was overheard making threatening comments about President Judge John DiSalle to strangers outside the complex. Charges held against him include felony retaliation against a judicial official and misdemeanor terroristic threats. Gregg expressed frustration during his preliminary hearing and shouted as he was escorted from the courtroom.
May 18, 2023: Police arrested a man after he called 911 threatening to kill a District Judge in Palmerton. Authorities determined that Mark Duffy called 911 to make false claims of an emergency occurring at the Carbon County Correctional Facility. Duffy then provided his date of birth and his full social security number. Duffy then falsely claimed there was an emergency at the Magisterial District Court in Palmerton and stated that all medical professionals to respond to these locations as soon as possible. Duffy made threats that he wanted to assassinate a Magisterial District Court Judge, William Kissner. Dispatchers determined he was safe. Duffy faces multiple charges stemming from false alarms of public safety, terroristic threats, and communications with 911.
May 5, 2023: Media reported that police apprehended a man waiting outside the home of Australian reality TV star, Sophie Monk, on April 25. Police were called when the man arrived at her front door with a single red rose calling out her name. The man told police and media that he meant no harm and that he was the target of an elaborate scam that had led him to believe that he had been communicating with the star for several months. He claimed he had lost AUS $7,000 in the scam (USD $4,566).
May 18, 2023: A Nova Scotia court found Bradley Alan Sturgeon, 53, guilty of uttering threats and intimidating a justice system participant for threatening to physically harm Judge Alain Begin of the Nova Scotia Provincial Court. On December 30, 2022, Sturgeon threatened to “go down and beat the f— out of Judge Begin” after finding out that the judge had suspended his driver’s license for impaired driving. Precautionary measures, including increased security and RCMP patrols, were implemented to ensure the judge’s safety.
May 10, 2023: Ten activists interrupted Volkswagen’s Annual General Meeting by throwing cakes and interrupting Chief Executive Oliver Blume’s speech. The protesters accused the carmaker of using forced labor in the production of its vehicles and held banners reading ‘End Uyghur Forced Labour at VW’. The protest targeted Volkswagen’s controversial plant in China’s Xinjiang region, echoing investor worries about alleged human rights violations. Security staff quickly removed the activists from the premises.
Greece and Albania
May 12, 2023: Albanian authorities arrested the elected mayor of a Greek minority community on suspicion of vote buying ahead of elections. Greek Foreign Affairs Minister Nikos Dendias has called on Albanian authorities to release Beleri and warned that the issue could be raised on the EU agenda. Despite winning the election, Beleri remains in prison, and Dendias expressed his concern over this situation, stating that it could significantly impact Albania-Greece relations.
May 17, 2023: An unidentified gunman targeted a member of Tijuana Mayor Montserrat Caballero’s security team in an assassination attempt. The incident occurred in downtown Tijuana when the bodyguard’s vehicle was fired upon by an assailant in a burgundy Suburban with California license plates. One bullet struck a window of the guard’s car but did not injure him. The shooting took place before the mayor’s visit to a beauty salon, and the suspect’s SUV, recovered later, was found to contain three loaded firearms and bulletproof vests.
May 3, 2023: Russia accused Ukraine of attempting to assassinate President Vladimir Putin in a drone attack on the Kremlin early in the morning of May 3. CCTV images show two drones exploding near Kremlin buildings approximately 15 minutes apart shortly before 3 am, causing superficial damage but no injuries. Kyiv denied responsibility for the incident and, based on the model of drones used in the attacks, they were most likely launched and operated locally in Moscow. Moscow used the attack to bolster its accusations that Kyiv is a terrorist regime.
May 4, 2023: Jeon Jungkook of the South Korean pop band BTS urged fans to stop sending him food orders, suggesting that they were stalkers for discovering his private residence address. Jeon appealed to fans on a social media platform, writing, “I beg you. If you send food one more time, I’ll check the receipt order number and act, so stop it.”
May 23, 2023: Climate activists disrupted the European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition in Geneva by storming the nearby tarmac and engaging in clashes with police and security personnel. Approximately 100 activists from 17 countries and various groups including Greenpeace and Extinction Rebellion, tore down fences, handcuffed themselves to landing gear, and affixed warning labels to planes. Geneva’s airport temporarily closed to flights, and police detained around 80 protesters.
May 7, 2023: Angry protesters threw stones at Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu’s campaign bus while he was touring the eastern Turkish city of Erzurum. The incident forced Mayor Imamoglu to halt his campaign speech and seek cover inside before swiftly departing the scene. Social media footage captured the police using water cannons to disperse the group of people who chased the bus and threw stones. Imamoglu denounced the event as a provocation and demanded an explanation from local officials. Several individuals reportedly sustained minor injuries in the incident. The province is under the control of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Islamist-rooted party, which eventually won the election.
May 2, 2023: A Ugandan soldier shot and killed a government minister he was assigned to protect at the minister’s home in Kampala. The soldier wounded one of the minister’s aides before taking his own life. The soldier had been assigned to the detail of Colonel Charles Okello Engola, deputy minister for gender and labor, a month before shooting him dead. A motive for the shooting remains unclear.
May 2, 2023: London Metropolitan Police arrested a man who threw shotgun shells over the gates at Buckingham Palace. Police found an edged weapon on the man during a subsequent search and carried out a controlled explosion on the shotgun shells out of precaution. A security cordon disrupted traffic around the palace for several hours. The incident came just four days before the coronation ceremony for King Charles III.
May 10, 202: A court sentenced a London man to a three-year restraining order for breaking into the North London home of actor Benedict Cumberbatch. Authorities have not released the date of the original incident. The former chef at the Beaumont Hotel in Mayfair allegedly kicked through the front gate of the multi-million dollar home and shouted, “I know you’ve moved here, I hope it burns down.” The intruder then broke a potted plant and ripped out an intercom before fleeing the scene before police arrived. The actor, his wife, and three children were at home at the time but there were no reports of injuries. The intruder had allegedly told a shopkeeper that he was going to break into the actor’s home and burn it down before the incident.
May 15, 2023: Environmental activists with Extinction Rebellion disrupted a conference in London hosted by the National Conservatism movement. Activists confronted Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg and interrupted Home Secretary Suella Braverman during her speech on conservatism and immigration. The protesters, aiming to highlight concerns over dangerous political rhetoric, were removed from the venue.
May 20, 23: London Mayor Sadiq Khan revealed he suffers from mental trauma due to death threats, and other stresses associated with the job in an interview with the Guardian newspaper. Khan described it as a form of cumulative post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), clarifying that he does not equate it with the experiences of refugees or others who have undergone similar situations. Khan plans to run for a third term as mayor.
May 25, 2023: London Metropolitan Police arrested a man after he crashed a car into the gates of the UK Prime Minister’s residence at 10 Downing Street. Police detained him on suspicion of criminal damage and dangerous driving but do not suspect that it is terrorism-related. Witnesses reported seeing officers pointing Tasers at the man before detaining him. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and others were inside at the time but there were no reported injuries. The area was partially evacuated but reopened shortly after.