We don’t yet know who’s responsible. We don’t yet know the motive. But someone tried to report that a Daniele Perazzi—allegedly president of the famous shotgun maker and the grandson of its founder—as a terrorist.
The whole kerfuffle began Saturday, May 17, when Colorado’s FOX31 reported that Perazzi was detained by the Adams County, Colorado, Sheriff’s Office for questioning as a potential terrorist. The only problem? Daniele Perazzi died last year, and his actual grandson doesn't share his name—nor is that grandson the president of the company.
Adams County immediately issued a statement that the event never occurred. Yet the journalist behind the story, Julie Hayden, brazenly stood by her reporting.
“I think that something did happen,” Hayden said during a radio interview on 630 KHOW. “I think there is some essential truth to it.”
The local sheriff’s office was quick to rebuke her.
"It is stunning to us that they have not stepped up and said they were wrong," Sgt. Paul Gregory said. "[Fox31] had a responsibility to fact check and extensively verify information prior to going on the air and making claims that were false."
Gregory further called Fox31’s reporting “shocking and unfortunate.”
Hayden’s only source was an anonymous attorney claiming to represent Perazzi. Shouldn’t Hayden have been suspicious of the request for anonymity in the first place—since when do attorneys require it? 9News—which is apparently a whole lot better at investigative journalism than Fox31—determined the source to be 27-year-old Korrine Aguirre of Walsenburg, Colorado. From the 9News report:
Reached by phone Tuesday night, Aguirre confirmed that she was FOX31's "attorney" source.
"Yeah," Aguirre said. "There was a comment that I had made the other day that I probably shouldn't have made."
"Apparently that blew up a lot bigger than it was supposed to," Aguirre said.
When Aguirre was asked if she actually is an attorney, the phone line went dead and she did not answer repeated return calls.
An online resume claims she graduated from the University of Denver's Sturm College of Law in 2011. A DU spokesperson was not immediately able to confirm that.
Aguirre does not appear in the state's database of attorneys maintained by the Colorado Supreme Court.
Truly incredible. One has to wonder who’s behind this attempted smear. A gun control advocate? A disgruntled colleague? And how could a journalist so easily fall for such an obvious hoax?