On December 21 2022, an Imgur user shared a screenshot of the following tweet, asserting that a member of Elon Musk’s security team had been deemed a “suspect” in an incident Musk tweeted about earlier in December 2022:
Overall, the details of the tweet referenced a specific, high-profile claim made by Musk. Furthermore, the alleged incident appeared to serve as justification on Musk’s part to limit a broad swath of speech on Twitter, the social media platform that he controversially acquired in late October 2022.
On December 14 2022, Musk tweeted:
In an initial tweet, Musk stated that any “account [disclosing] real-time location info of anyone” would be suspended, “as it is a physical safety violation.” About half an hour later, Musk claimed that “a car carrying” his son X Æ A-12 was “followed” by a “crazy stalker” on December 13 2022 — creating an impression that the subsequent tweet about “doxxing” was informed by an encounter with a dangerous individual.
In threaded replies, Musk shared video of a visible license plate on a car driven by a masked individual:
In the early morning hours of December 16 2022, news site The Verge published a story about Musk’s next move, reporting that a large number of prominent journalists had been seemingly suspended from Twitter for reasons ostensibly related to his location data:
Twitter has suspended the accounts of several prominent reporters who cover Elon Musk, including Ryan Mac of The New York Times, CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan, The Washington Post’s Drew Harwell, The Intercept’s Micah Lee, and Mashable’s Matt Binder, Aaron Rupar, and Tony Webster. [On December 15-16 2022], Musk logged in to a Twitter Space to try to explain why and ran a poll asking when the journalists should be unbanned — in both instances, things didn’t exactly go his way.
The reporters who have been banned all seem to have recently tweeted about Musk’s attempts to crack down on the sharing of the whereabouts of his private jet. Apparently, though, accounts that can’t post can still join a Twitter Spaces live audio chat. In a Space that included Harwell, Binder, and the ElonJet account, Musk eventually tried to explain himself.
In that conversation, Musk accused the journalists of “ban evasion.” Once the ElonJet account had been banned from Twitter, its owner set up accounts on Facebook and Mastodon. By posting links to those accounts, he argued, the journalists were trying to get around his ban.
As The Verge explained, Musk entered a “Twitter Space” in an attempt to further argue his point, before temporarily removing access to all “Twitter Spaces.” In a December 15 2022 reply to a user questioning the suspensions of journalists, Musk accused the suspended users of having shared “basically assassination coordinates,” reiterating the broader claim recent censorship was a necessary security measure:
On December 19 2022, the New York Post published a gossip item about the incident. It identified the masked individual as an Uber Eats driver named Brandon Collado.
As for the December 21 2022 Imgur post and the tweet depicted in it, the initial post linked to a December 20 2022 NBC News article. Its headline was visible on both posts (“California police say member of Elon Musk’s security team is a suspect following stalker claim”) and it reported that police in South Pasadena released additional information about the incident:
In a statement Tuesday [December 20 2022], police in South Pasadena said that the incident involved a member of Musk’s security team, whose vehicle hit the car of a man he alleged was following him.The police called the security team member a “suspect.” They did not say what crimes they suspected him of committing, but said they were investigating a report of “an assault with a deadly weapon involving a vehicle.”
Musk’s description of the incident was different. [On December 14 2022], in justifying his decision to ban the Twitter account @ElonJet, which publishes the location of his private airplane, Musk said that a “stalker” had used location information from the account to follow and confront a car carrying one of his children.
The statement from South Pasadena police, though, contained no mention of a suspected stalker.
A copy of the statement shared to the City of South Pasadena’s website on December 20 2022. In its entirety, it read:
Post Date:12/20/2022 5:58 PM
South Pasadena (Calif.) – On Tuesday, December 13, 2022, at 9:51 pm, the South Pasadena Police Department responded to the 700 block of Mission Street for a report of an assault with a deadly weapon involving a vehicle. An officer arrived on the scene within minutes and located the victim, a 29-year-old male from Connecticut.
The victim indicated he had just exited the northbound 110 freeway and stopped to use his telephone in a parking lot in the 700 block of Mission Street. While parked, the victim stated another vehicle pulled directly in front of him, blocking his path. The driver of the vehicle exited and approached the victim, accusing him of following him on the freeway. It appears that each party captured video during the dispute.
As the suspect was leaving the parking lot, he struck the victim with his vehicle. When the officer arrived on scene, the suspect had already left the area. At no time during the incident did the victim identify the suspect or indicate the altercation was anything more than coincidental.
On Thursday, December 15, 2022, South Pasadena Police learned the suspect involved in this case is believed to be a member of Elon Musk’s security team. Detectives do not believe Mr. Musk was present during the confrontation.
Detectives are reviewing evidence and video footage of the incident. Efforts to contact Mr. Musk and his security team for statements are underway. Anyone with additional information about this incident is urged to contact Detective Catalina Valdez at 626-403-7284.
Access this press release by clicking here: 12-20-22 – Press Release – Vehicle Assault
In the statement, police described the incident as a “Vehicle Assault.” Notably, the statement identified the “victim” as a 29-year-old man from Connecticut; it further indicated the “suspect … believed to be a member of Elon Musk’s security team” allegedly “struck the victim with his vehicle.”
On December 20 2022, police in South Pasadena issued a statement about a “Vehicle Assault” allegedly involving a member of Elon Musk’s security team. The statement contradicted Musk’s viral December 14 2022 tweet claiming a “car carrying lil X in LA was followed by crazy stalker (thinking it was me), who later blocked car from moving & climbed onto hood.” In the statement, police described Musk’s employee as a “suspect,” and the other involved individual as a “victim” in the incident.