FBI arrests person behind online threat on LGBT activist
Authorities arrested a Puerto Rico resident after referencing the Boston Marathon bombing in an online threat against an LGBT activist, the Associated Press reported on Monday.
A spokesperson for the Federal Bureau of Investigation said agents arrested Joseph Morales Serrano at his home in San Juan following a May 6 Twitter post directed at Pedro Julio Serrano (no relation) saying, “watch out during the demonstration, it can end like in Boston, pendejo,” using a Spanish-language term for “idiot.”
The Spanish-language news magazine Primera Hora reported that Serrano, who resides in both Puerto Rico and New York City, was planning at the time to attend a May 17 march as part of the International Day against Homophobia. Ultimately, he did not take part in the event.
Morales’ May 6 post was part of a larger pattern of online harassment; he accused Serrano on several occasions of “not having enough votes” for a bill prohibiting discrimination against the LGBT community. The Washington Blade reported on May 18 that the bill did indeed pass in the Puerto Rican senate.
According to the AP, Serrano went to the FBI after asking police in both Puerto Rico and New York City to investigate the threat but had not gotten any results. Serrano told the AP that he did not know the suspect.
“He looked at me as a target because of my activism,” he said. “It was not personal.”
Morales, who has not retained an attorney or entered a plea, is expected to appear before a federal judge on Monday on charges of cyberbullying. He could spend up to five years in jail if found guilty.
“I’m grateful to the FBI for acting swiftly, and not waiting for an act of physical violence to be committed to arrest the person threatening me,” Serrano wrote on Twitter on Monday.
[Image via Pedro Julio Serrano Facebook fan page]