A Police Officer and a Violent Troll Walk Into a Harassment Forum
Punch line: they're the same person.
New details have emerged in the case of an anonymous poster on the harassment website "OnAForums" who has claimed to be a police officer and is alleged to have used his position to conduct illegal surveillance on a man's location through his mobile phone and other databases to help a criminal harassment group perform numerous "swatting" attacks against science fiction author Patrick Tomlinson.
Swatting is the criminal act of abusing an emergency line to report a violent crime at a victim's location or home, causing armed police to arrive and a dangerous situation to play out. The many Internet-sourced attacks against Tomlinson, including nearly forty swatting attacks directed towards his home and several directed towards the home of his elderly parents, have prompted further investigations into OnAForums.
💡 Content Warning: Racism, Police Violence
While most other OnAForums users minimized discussion of their real lives and professions, user "Pringle Can Lothario" (hereafter referred to as SUSPECT) claimed to be a law enforcement officer.
Other users on the forum deferred to SUSPECT as law enforcement and tagged SUSPECT into discussions for advice.
Not only did SUSPECT identify themselves as law enforcement, they provided regular guidance to other posters about the procedural contours of the harassment directed at their victim.
SUSPECT helpfully provided his fellow forum trolls a link to the Milwaukee Police Department's call logs.
SUSPECT had been a primary proponent of the lie that the victim is swatting themselves, and had invested significant effort to convince other forum users of this lie.
SUSPECT was observed posting a call for harassment to victim Patrick Tomlinson's real world location only 11 minutes after the victim posted images of himself at this location.
The SUSPECT, who identified himself as a police officer and is suspected of helping the group perform swatting attacks against science fiction author Patrick Tomlinson, has taunted him on multiple occasions about the fact that his phone number remains unchanged since the harassment began.
Despite my experience in performing visual verification, I was unable to easily identify the location of the bar in the images provided. This led me to theorize that the alleged swatter may have used official law enforcement resources to surveil Tomlinson's location, as the ability to ping a mobile phone's location requires access to sensitive information.
SUSPECT allegedly requested other forum users to obtain Tomlinson's motorcycle's license plate, providing further evidence of possible access to law enforcement datasets not available to the public.
The SUSPECT appeared extremely perturbed when this author began investigating and tweeting about OnAForums, and subsequently posted a series of threats directed at me on April 19:
"I can make sure there's enough fentanyl found on a car stop to get you 35 to life."
"I personally blame Jackie Singh for this incident."
"I'd prefer she stick a Colt Python in her mouth and pull the trigger."
"Jackie, Jackie, Jackie. Want to wind up on an NCIC watch list [...]?"
Many violent threats have been made by SUSPECT towards Tomlinson and others.
"Burn his house down, go to the nursing home and put strychnine in his grandma's oatmeal, force his father to wear a klan robe and make hime [sic] walk in a colored neighborhood after dark, et al."
"I want to separate his head from his blobby disgusting torso."
"Move to Florida again so some meth ******* can kill you, *******."
False Reporting to CBP
Another sci-fi author, Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki, suffered the indignity of being detained by Homeland Security's Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for five days on his way into the United States after a lengthy process to crowdfund a visa to accept an award for his work–based entirely on a report submitted by this police officer by his own admission.
"We got the ****** deported. He isn't coming back."
"I personally had a hand in getting Donald deported."
"I'll gladly admit my part in getting this *** ****** deported."
Here is a separate threat suggesting SUSPECT will continue to use official resources to conduct additional surveillance and harassment of Tomlinson in a continuation of the false reporting against Ekpeki:
"You've been warned."
Death Threats Sent to WorldCon
In fact, a specific threat of violence was made in September 2022 to the 80th World Science Fiction Convention in Chicago against both of SUSPECT's alleged victims, authors Ekpeki and Tomlinson:
As explained by Ekpeki in a San Francisco Bay View article titled "First African-born Black Nebula Award winner faces death threats & hostile embassy to attend WorldCon":
“I arrive on Friday, and miss half the day. I am exhausted and wanted to make some of the panels I was slated for. Just fresh off the plane, tired and nervous, I get an email from the WorldCon organizers that they had received a death threat for me and the other guy [Patrick Tomlinson], that they are going to come and shoot up the place because of us, and kill us. So as soon as I am able, I should come to convention security, and see hotel security and they are making plans to make everything safe. I just can’t tell you how that felt after I’d been through so much just to get there,” said Oghenechovwe.
Stalking at WorldCon
It is notable that an individual (also referred to herewith as SUSPECT) from OnAForums physically stalked and surveilled Tomlinson at a separate WorldCon event in Washington, D.C. in December 2022, then reposted the photos and video on a separate harassment website which is allegedly operated by the owner of OnAForums–an individual known as "Quasi", "Quasi101", or "Quasi 101".
SUSPECT posted extensive photographs and details of their surveillance activities on the associated harassment website apostlegate[.]net and made a specific point of taking photos of themselves with the harassment material they distributed throughout the conference.
The harassment material consisted of business cards with a printed link to a separate associated harassment website, payquasi[.]com also known as payquasi[.]lol.
SUSPECT described their harassment activity as follows:
"With the Primary mission accomplished, I was able to move on to the secondary goal. I quickly left the dealers room and took out the box of cards. I knew Pat would be at his table for at least a half an hour, so that was how long I had to go to work."
"I plastered the area with the “Pay Quasi” cards. They were in every men’s room (I didn’t go into any of the ladies’ rooms despite the convention’s insistence that this was A-OK), on every table, on every pedestal and every display sign I could find. In all, probably around 100 cards were left around the area of the convention. I took pictures of several of them but as people started to come out of sessions and noticed me, I decided not to press my luck and move along."
The many photos posted by the harasser of their work to distribute these cards with a link to the harassment website in various locations throughout the conference grounds were separately corroborated by another conference attendee.
The actions of SUSPECT(S) were clearly intended to harm the well-being, reputation, and economic livelihood of authors Tomlinson and Ekpeki, the World Science Fiction Conference, and its attendees and organizers.
It seems relevant to note SUSPECT also took and posted photos of themselves on with this same harassing material in front of the White House and the Washington Memorial.
I was not able to identify any particular reason as to these framings of the harassing material.
Restricted Gun Ownership
Finally, SUSPECT made a comment on the forum about owning a "Vityaz in 9mm" with a silencer and having purchased "SBR stamps" for it.
The Vityaz is a Russian submachine gun currently used in the Russian aggression against Ukraine. Wikipedia notes:
The 9mm PPK-20 variant with improved ergonomics and ammunition, increased reliability and supplemented with a silencer completed state trials and approved for serial production in July 2020.
With its barrel at a short 9.4 inches in length, Vityaz rifles are illegal to possess under Florida law without proper registration.
The possession of a short-barreled rifle (SBR) or a silencer, also known as a suppressor, is regulated under the National Firearms Act which requires individuals to register these weapons and obtain a tax stamp before possessing them. To obtain a tax stamp for an SBR in Florida, citizens must submit an application to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) along with a $200 fee. The application must also include a set of fingerprints which are sent to the FBI and a recent photograph of the applicant. The application can take six months to complete.
Is SUSPECT Employed at the Alachua County Sheriff's Office?
On March 23, SUSPECT described a specific incident involving a Black woman he named as "LaShaniqua" who had stabbed a man with a meat fork in a "domestic dispute".
I was able to locate a recent corresponding case with several matching details which occurred in Florida.
I was also able to obtain the list of officers involved in this incident through a FOIA request to the Alachua County, Florida Sheriff's Office.
Is SUSPECT employed at this office?
Local and federal law enforcement now have the tools needed to identify the potential Vityaz owner and criminal harasser in their ranks, who surely poses a significant risk to his community.
The individual has stated multiple times that they feel "immune" from any legal action associated with their policing or their actions on the forum.
The allegations against this anonymous poster have sparked concern about the use of illegal surveillance and abuse of power by law enforcement officials. Many on Twitter have called for an investigation into these criminal actions.
SUSPECT(S) are considered dangerous and have not been contacted for comment.
Update 8/1/2023: On July 27, the following post was made directly to the forum profile of suspected police officer "Pringle Can Lothario" by "Prison Enjoyer", a prolific harasser of Tomlinson on Twitter.
His last post was on June 28, and his last login was June 29.
This is a developing story. Hacking, But Legal will provide updates as they become available.