CHARLOTTE, NC — A reported terrorist threat against SouthPark Mall had the social media world buzzing.
It also led to some anxious moments, and an FBI investigation. The man who alerted authorities is talking exclusively to WCCB Charlotte.
It started with a series of combative tweets between John Osborne in Columbia, South Carolina and someone promoting ISIS. Then it hit close to home.
“They went to, ‘Did you know the SouthPark Mall is the largest mall in Charlotte?’, and it’s kind of like, what?” says Osborne.
Osborne called the FBI office in Washington, D.C., and wrote a blog that got picked up on the Internet.
“And then it went viral at that point, so if they weren’t already notified about it, they were notified rather quickly,” says Osborne.
Word of the reported threat spread quickly in the Queen City, getting the attention of city government and local law enforcement.
“We make sure that any information or intelligence that comes to us that’s for us to act on, we do. Or if it needs passing on, we pass it on immediately,” says CMPD’s Major Jeff Estes.
SouthPark Mall management tells WCCB Charlotte that they contacted both CMPD and the FBI, and that the FBI told them the tweets are part of a known propaganda campaign and not a credible threat.
The FBI released a statement to WCCB saying: “The FBI is unaware of any specific, credible threats to the U.S. or the Charlotte area at this time.”
People we talked to are glad to hear that this threat was not real, but concerned that ISIS could be ready to strike.
“There’s probably been a lot of things none of us have any idea that’s been looked at,” says a South Charlotte resident. “But I certainly think there’s an opportunity for people to get in the country and do something that we don’t want them to do.”
There have been several tweets threatening ISIS strikes on U.S. soil. The FBI is urging the public to be vigilant, and report any suspicious activities to local police and the FBI.