October 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.
The TorchStone Executive Protection Report tracked 33 domestic and 11 international security incidents or updates to prior incidents impacting high-profile individuals during the month of September. Below are some key incidents of note over the past month.
- The Israel Gaza conflict that began Oct 7 has contributed to a rise in antisemitic and Islamophobic threats around the world. Federal and local Jewish lawmakers in the United States, as well as community Jewish leaders around the world, have reported increased threats. Madonna is touring with increased security after voicing support for Israel. Similarly, federal and local Muslim lawmakers and officials are reporting threats against them and their families. Prominent Muslims, such as the Hadid family, have also reported receiving violent threats.
- Two incidents over the past month highlight the threat of repeat offenders attacking their target on the same day following police intervention. On Oct 4, police arrested a man armed with a handgun who demanded to see Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers outside the state capitol building. Police released the man and he returned to the capitol with an assault rifle several hours later demanding to see the governor again. Similarly, on Oct 25, a man returned to the home of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. several hours after police arrested him for trespassing at the property.
- The Speaker of the House selection process contributed to elevated threats against U.S. Representatives over the month of October, with multiple lawmakers claiming that they and their immediate families received violent threats in response to their votes. With the short-term government funding bill scheduled to expire Nov 17, tensions on Capitol Hill, and threats to lawmakers, their families, and staff, are likely to remain high.
DOMESTIC U.S. INCIDENTS
October 1, 2023: The man who had a temporary restraining order issued against him for stalking Miley Cyrus was arrested for showing up at her Los Angeles Home. The man attempted to gain access to her residence and was placed under arrest for an outstanding warrant.
• September 28, 2023: Miley Cyrus obtained a civil harassment restraining order from Los Angeles County against a 52-year-old man. According to reports, the male allegedly made an unwanted visit to her Malibu residence after his August release from San Quentin State Prison.
October 3, 2023: ESPN host Malika Andrews obtained a civil harassment restraining order from L.A. County after filing against a 41-year-old New Jersey man. According to court documents, in addition to issuing threats against Ms. Andrews, the alleged stalker also harassed some of her colleagues. Ms. Andrews claimed that the supposed stalker first contacted her via Twitter/X in September 2022. Initially, it seemed like the actions of an excessively enthusiastic admirer, but quickly escalated into intimidating and harassing behavior, including repeatedly calling her unlisted phone number. Court documents revealed Ms. Andrews reported the alleged stalker traveled to ESPN’s Los Angeles facility to initiate unwanted contact with her.
October 5, 2023: A California resident has been charged with communicating a threat for stating his intent to commit a mass shooting at an Orange County courthouse. The individual sent numerous emails that contained threatening language including, “The remainder of my life will be dedicated to assassinating judges, attorneys, and a police station.“ The man issued the threat after he was issued a protective order stemming from a domestic violence proceeding. The man has a history of violent rhetoric and attempted to confront the district attorney of Orange County outside of his house in 2021.
October 10, 2023: San Francisco law enforcement officers fatally shot a man who drove his vehicle into the Chinese consulate building. The driver was armed with a knife and swung the weapon at a security guard and a police sergeant before being shot and killed. The man had a loaded crossbow in the back seat of his vehicle. The intention behind the attack on the consulate building is still under investigation.
• September 16, 2023: During a book signing event at the Los Angeles Barnes & Noble hosted by Matthew McConaughey, law enforcement removed a suspected female stalker upon confirming the presence of an active restraining order against her.
October 21, 2023: NFL player Demarcus Robinson was robbed outside of a hotel in Los Angeles. Mr. Robinson told police that two masked men approached him at gunpoint and stole an estimated $100,000 worth of jewelry. Mr. Robinson was not injured in the incident. No arrests have been made in connection with the robbery, but Los Angeles Police have launched an investigation into the incident.
October 25, 2023: A man who climbed a fence at the residence of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. was detained by the presidential candidate’s private security and arrested by the Los Angeles police. After being released from police custody the man returned to Mr. Kennedy’s home and was arrested again later that same day. The man has reportedly sent “alarming communications” to Mr. Kennedy in recent months. Mr. Kennedy was at his residence at the time of both arrests.
• September 15, 2023: A man was arrested for entering a campaign event held by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. with a loaded weapon. The man was charged with carrying a concealed weapon and impersonating federal law enforcement as he had a badge stating he was a U.S. Marshall. Mr. Kennedy’s security team identified the individual and reported him to Los Angeles police who were in attendance.
October 20, 2023: A 62-year-old Virginia man was arraigned in New Haven following his arrest on July 18, 2023, for felony Stalking and Electronic Stalking targeting three Connecticut Superior Court Judges. The man who is a former Connecticut resident, is accused of running an internet blog called The Family Court Circus, which he has allegedly used to threaten and dox several judges. The individual previously went through a divorce and custody battle in a Connecticut Superior Court from 2012-2014. The blog was first published in 2014 and an early target of the online forum was the judge who presided over the man’s divorce hearing. The man has denied any involvement in the internet blog.
October 11, 2023: A man who is suspected of calling in a threat directed at a Social Security Office in Augusta was detained by the FBI. The man allegedly threatened an employee by stating that he would come to the office and shoot it up or blow it up. The individual entered the Social Security Office shortly afterward with a backpack and handed a security officer a note that read, “I have a bomb.” The man made the threat after expressing his frustration with a recent decision made by the Social Security Administration regarding his account. The individual has a history of making threats of violence and was previously arrested for aggravated assault.
October 30, 2023: An individual faces federal charges in Atlanta for sending interstate threats with the intent to harm Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis and Fulton County Sheriff Patrick Labat due to their involvement in the charges against former President Donald Trump in Fulton County, Georgia. The accused individual had an initial court appearance in Huntsville and is set for formal arraignment in Atlanta on November 13, 2023.
October 5, 2023: An Ohio resident has been charged with transmitting a threatening interstate communication directed at a Maryland public official. The man allegedly threatened to kill or injure the public official via a communication from a cell phone. The public official who received the threat is identified solely as the head of an independent federal government agency.
October 10, 2023: Members of Climate Defiance disrupted Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg’s speech at iMPACT MARYLAND at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in Baltimore prompting him to exit the stage. Secretary Buttigieg was escorted away by security after climate protesters shouted, “Stop Petro Pete” and, “End Fossil Fuels Pete.” The activists have recently engaged in disruptive actions at public gatherings, frequently challenging individuals they assert are backing fossil fuel projects.
October 19, 2023: Maryland Circuit Court Associate Judge Andrew Wilkenson was fatally shot outside of his home. The suspect in the murder was found dead on October 25. The suspect’s cause of death is unknown. Judge Wilkerson oversaw the suspect’s divorce proceedings and had granted his ex-wife custody of their child and sole possession of the family home which is believed to be the motive for the judge’s murder.
• September 25, 2023: 26-year-old Tech CEO Pava LaPere was discovered dead in her luxury Mount Vernon apartment with injuries from blunt force trauma.
October 11, 2023: A mobile digital billboard featuring the names and images of Harvard students reportedly associated with organizations that endorsed a contentious declaration regarding Hamas’ assault on Israel made its way through the streets near Harvard University’s campus. Amid ongoing nationwide backlash, several Harvard student organizations have retracted their endorsements from a contentious declaration that assigned full responsibility to Israel for the ongoing conflict after becoming targets of doxing.
October 10, 2023: A Lansing man was sentenced to three years and one month in prison after threatening a federal judge. The threat came after the judge dismissed one of the individuals numerous filed lawsuits. The defendant, who suffers from mental health complications, had filed over 25 lawsuits in federal court against elected officials, including former President Trump, along with state police, the FBI, and Facebook. In addition to the judge, the individual made violent, direct threats to the clerk of the Court of Claims and the Ingham County Sheriff. He was found guilty on counts of threatening to assault or murder a federal official and interstate communications with threat to kidnap or injure.
October 13, 2023: A White Lake resident currently serving a multi-year sentence pleaded guilty to one count of Attempted False Report or Threat of Terrorism for threatening his sentencing judge. In 2021, the man sent a letter threatening the life of the judge who sentenced him in 2016 for Criminal Sexual Conduct. The letter stated that were the individual required to serve his maximum sentence he would put everyone’s name on the docket during his sentencing into a jar and the name he picked, “will be killed plain and simple.” The man’s sentencing hearing for threatening the judge will be on December 13, 2023.
October 24, 2023: A Billings man accused of threatening to murder Former Speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy, has pleaded not guilty. The individual was charged with threatening to injure or murder a member of the United States Congress via harassing phone calls. The threats came as an attempt to retaliate against the Speaker for his performance during his tenure as House speaker. If convicted, the individual can face up to 10 years in prison.
October 3, 2023: The man targeting former WWE wrestler Ryback has been officially charged with aggravated stalking and issued a Stay Away Order. A preliminary hearing regarding the aggravated stalking charge is set for January 18, 2024.
• July 8, 2023: Former WWE wrestler Ryback has been repeatedly targeted by an online stalker who had been joining the former wrestler’s YouTube livestreams and issuing threats towards Ryback, his family, and other former wrestlers.
October 27, 2023: A man from Las Vegas appeared in federal court facing charges of making threatening communications against Senator Jacky Rosen, who is of Jewish faith, with the intention of obstructing, intimidating, or interfering with her while she was carrying out her official duties. The individual reportedly left multiple threatening voicemails for Senator Rosen between October 11 and October 19 before being arrested by the police on October 26. The next day, he mentioned his intent to visit the U.S. Senator. When denied entry, he grew upset and began loudly yelling and using profanities outside the courtroom.
October 13, 2023: New York City Council Member Julie Menin received a pages-long handwritten death threat that was mailed to her office by an anonymous sender. The letter contained threats of physical and sexual violence. Menin is a member of the Council’s Jewish caucus, but she noted the letter was received on October 5, prior to Hamas’ attack on Israel. The letter is currently being investigated by the New York Police Department.
October 17, 2023: Fashion models Gigi and Bella Hadid, as well as their immediate family members, have reportedly received death threats after publicly indicating their support for Palestine in the midst of the conflict with Israel. The Hadid family have reported receiving threatening messages on social media and through email and phone messages after their phone numbers were doxed online. The Hadid family is of Palestinian descent.
October 18, 2023: A woman was arrested and charged with contempt of court after she attempted to approach former President Donald Trump during his New York civil fraud trial. The woman, who is also a New York court employee, walked towards the front of the courtroom and yelled to the former president that she wanted to “assist him.” She was escorted out of the courtroom and subsequently placed on administrative leave pending an investigation of the incident.
October 12, 2023: A 24-year-old New Hampshire resident pleaded guilty to one count of transmitting a threat in interstate commerce after he left a threatening voicemail at the office of U.S. Representative Matt Gaetz. The suspect confessed that he did not actually plan to harm Rep. Gaetz and did not own a firearm and that he was “emotional and intoxicated” when he left the voicemail. He faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison but will likely be sentenced to three years of probation as part of a plea agreement.
October 18, 2023: Hoboken mayor Ravi Bhalla reported that he received at least three threatening letters delivered to his home since 2018. Each letter was increasingly more violent and threatening, with the first calling for his resignation, the second threatening his life, and the third threatening the lives of him and his immediate family. The letters included hate speech against the Muslim community and misidentified Mayor Bhalla as a Muslim. Law enforcement has provided security for Mayor Bhalla and his family as they continue to investigate the identity of the sender.
October 21, 2023: Vermont State Police responded to a bomb threat targeting a restaurant hosting a Vermont Democratic Party fundraiser. The Zenbarn restaurant and nightclub received the threat after most of the people in attendance had left the event. Police investigated the threat and found no evidence of a suspicious device. Vermont investigators are working with the Oxford County Sheriff’s office to identify the caller.
October 20, 2023: The Council on American-Islamic Relations’ (CAIR) annual banquet was canceled due to violent threats made toward the venue hosting the event. The Crystal Gateway Marriott hotel received threats from an unnamed caller stating they would, “plant bombs,” “kill hotel staff,” and “storm the hotel in a repeat of the Jan. 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol” unless the event was canceled. CAIR has stated they will host their banquet at an unannounced location with heightened security. Police said the investigation remains ongoing.
October 2, 2023: Iranian American Washington state lawmaker, Darya Farivar, revealed that she received death threats earlier this year stating that she would “get four bullets in the middle of (her) forehead.” The lawmaker stated that she believes the threats were made due to misinformation that she supports the current Iranian Theocratic regime. Ms. Farivar has dealt with widespread social media criticism after her failure to show support for Iranian Americans demonstrating against the death of Mahsa Amini in September 2022. There has been no arrest made in connection with the threats directed at the lawmaker.
October 4, 2023: A man was arrested for showing up at the Wisconsin Capitol with a handgun and demanding to see Governor Tony Evers. The individual posted bail and immediately came back to the Wisconsin Capitol with an assault rifle after the building closed, again demanding to see the Wisconsin Governor. Police reported that the man was taken into protective custody and brought to a hospital for a mental evaluation. Mr. Evers was not at the Wisconsin Capitol at the time of either incident.
Washington, District of Columbia
October 2, 2023: U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar’s car was stolen at gunpoint by three masked assailants less than a mile south of the U.S. Capitol building. The congressman was not harmed during the incident. No suspects have been named in connection with the robbery. The U.S. Capitol Police stated that an investigation has been opened and the Metropolitan Police and the FBI will be assisting.
October 18, 2023: U.S. Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks received death threats after she withdrew her support for Jim Jordan during the second House Speaker vote. The congresswoman stated that in addition to the “credible death threats,” she also received a “barrage of threatening calls.” The Capitol Police are investigating the threatening calls.
October 19, 2023: Congressman Don Bacon’s wife, Angie Bacon, received threatening messages from voters urging her to convince her husband to support Jim Jordan for House Speaker. Mrs. Bacon got “a barrage of emails and text messages” and several threatening calls from anonymous individuals. Rep. Bacon opposed Jim Jordan’s Speaker bid in all three rounds of voting.
October 20, 2023: The Capitol Police have reported an increase in reports of threats against members of Congress and their families in October. The department has cited the Republican search for a speaker and the Israel-Hamas war as the main contributing factors to the increase. The Capitol Police has increased its briefings to Congress regarding elected officials’ security and has advised members and staff to use the tunnels to travel between office buildings and the Capitol.
• September 21, 2023: Capitol Police agents responsible for vetting threats made against members of Congress are inundated. Chief J. Thomas Manger has asked for additional funding for the department’s Threat Assessment Section, which is responsible for identifying any threats against members of Congress or their families. Chief Manger stated that threats against congressional officials have increased by 300% over the last seven years and that agents are now responsible for investigating 500 threat investigations a year.
October 5, 2023: Australian lawmaker Lidia Thorpe was threatened by an individual claiming to be from the neo-Nazi group, Warriors for Convict Resistance in an online video shared on the X social platform. The individual burned the Aboriginal flag, endorsed a “white Australia,” and made racial comments about Indigenous people while threatening Thorpe. The video was shared nine days before Australian lawmakers were set to vote on a national referendum that would give rights to the First Peoples of Australia. Thorpe was the first Aboriginal woman elected to the Victorian parliament and is an outspoken advocate for Indigenous Australians.
October 13, 2023: A rabbi’s home in Surrey, British Columbia, was vandalized after a man was seen throwing eggs at the house and drawing a swastika on the window. After the man reportedly asked the rabbi’s son if the home was a Jewish temple, the suspect said, “I’m God, and I’m going to egg this place.” Police continue investigating the incident as a hate crime.
October 28, 2023: Authorities rescued the mother of Colombian soccer player Luis Diaz but are still searching for his father after the couple was kidnapped near their home in Barrancas, in northern Colombia. According to police, armed individuals on motorcycles forcibly detained the couple at a gas station and took them away in a vehicle. The kidnappers are associated with the National Liberation Army (ELN) a Colombian Marxist insurgent group. Law enforcement was able to recover Diaz’s mother later the same day of her abduction. Officials are concerned that the kidnappers may try to take Diaz’s father across the border into Venezuela, complicating rescue efforts.
October 10, 2023: German authorities detained five individuals associated with the far-right “Reichsbürger” group, under suspicion of orchestrating a scheme to kidnap the federal health minister and stage a government overthrow, which was uncovered in 2022. The Reichsbürger movement is a far right-wing group that contends the Federal Republic of Germany lacks legitimacy and seeks to establish an authoritarian and nationalist regime instead. They were apprehended in Rhineland-Palatinate and supported a group with the goal of replacing Germany’s constitutional order with an authoritarian regime modeled after the 1871 Reich.
October 14, 2023: Iranian film director Dariush Mehrjui and his wife were found fatally stabbed in their home near Tehran. Local authorities stated that while they have not identified any suspects, the director had received knife threats over social media in recent weeks.
October 4, 2023: Mexican American band Fuerza Regida has canceled its concert in Tijuana after receiving death threats via banners placed in public places around Tijuana. The banners were signed by the Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion which stated that if the group took the stage, it would be “the last show of their lives.” Fuerza Regida has written and performed songs about Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman the former leader of the Sinaloa cartel, which is the rival of Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion. Tijuana Mayor Montserrat Cavallero believes that performers that reference cartels and their leaders are partly to blame for the subsequent threats and stated that the artists and their promoters should be investigated for potential ties to the cartels.
• September 15, 2023: Pop star Peso Pluma was forced to reschedule a concert set to be held in Tijuana due to death threats made against the singer. Four banners were displayed across Tijuana warning the singer to cancel his concert in mid-October.
October 9, 2023: A London resident has been sentenced to 16 months in jail and issued a restraining order for stalking actress Mimi Keene. The man first approached Ms. Keene at her birthday party in March 2023 and asked for her phone number which she declined. The individual then went to her residence to leave a bouquet of flowers for her and said he had seen her walking in a park nearby. The man was detained by police and when questioned he admitted to visiting Ms. Keene’s home on seven different occasions.
October 10, 2023: TV presenter Holly Willoughby announced that she has quit her TV show “This Morning” after police uncovered a plot to kidnap and murder her. A resident of Harlow was arrested and appeared in court on charges linked to the plot. The man is also suspected of soliciting a US resident to travel to the UK to carry out the alleged offenses. The individual charged with the kidnapping plot will appear in court for a hearing on November 3, 2023.
October 10, 2023: An individual disrupted a speech by UK Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer during a party conference by approaching and throwing glitter at him. The man vocally expressed his concerns about “true democracy” and the “crisis” before being forcibly removed from the stage. Law enforcement officials indicated the 28-year-old individual from Surrey has been apprehended under suspicion of committing an S39 assault, causing a breach of the peace, and engaging in actions that caused a public nuisance.
October 22, 2023: Pop star Madonna has been given increased security for her ongoing tour after receiving widespread negative posts on social media due to her recent comments regarding the Israel-Hamas war. Madonna addressed the ongoing conflict during her concert in London saying, “See children being thrown off motorcycles, kidnapped, babies being decapitated, children at peace raves being shot and killed.” None of the singer’s concert tour dates were canceled as a result and there are no public reports of threats directly against her.
October 22, 2023: UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s old phone number was published online after a video of a prank call that included the PM’s voicemail was posted to social media. A spokesperson for the PM stated that Mr. Sunak had gotten a new phone number some time ago and that the number posted online is no longer in use. Former UK PM Boris Johnson was forced to change his phone number in 2021 following an almost identical prank that was posted to social media.