Feds charge man with threatening Detroit journalists
Federal authorities have charged a Michigan man with sending threatening, anti-Semitic and sexually violent messages to Detroit journalists and an elected official.
The FBI has been investigating reports that Lawrence Steven Brayboy allegedly targeted workers at The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press, according to an affidavit filed in U.S. District Court this week.
Between October 2017 and October 2018, one unnamed writer received at least 65 voicemails from the 69-year-old, and virtually every one “contained sexually violent threats and/or sexually vulgar language directed toward” him, his wife or mother, the filing stated. “Brayboy referenced Victim One as a 9/11 traitor and that all traitors will be sentenced to death.”
In one voicemail, authorities assert, Brayboy threatened to send the writer “to Guantanamo Bay where we’re gonna water board and torture you, we'll videotape and document the event, you dirty little (expletive) child molesting, mass murdering psychopath.”
Another writer received many calls, emails and messages from Brayboy for years, including nearly 30 voicemails between October 2017 and October 2018, according to the FBI. Besides suggesting the staffer be prosecuted and hanged, Brayboy talked about his dead mother having sex with two Michigan lawmakers and “sexual violence directed at minor children” related to him, the complaint said.
A former writer also received around 10 emails daily from Brayboy over a decade as well as recent voicemails mentioning a sex act with his children. Even after the staffer changed jobs this year, “Brayboy began to leave voicemail messages … at his two current places of employment.”
Investigators also accuse Brayboy of inundating an Ann Arbor official with 34 emails between Oct. 5 and Nov. 2. Last month, he allegedly sent the official and 80 other recipients a message calling for the extermination of “Israel USA Bullies of the World” during a football game.
“I guarantee the largest TV audience in human history for that event,” he wrote.
The FBI identified at least 12 victims Brayboy communicated with, although several others received countless voicemails and/or emails from him, according to the affidavit.
A special agent verified him as the source through tracking his email address and a YouTube page attributed to the Ann Arbor resident, officials reported in the filing.
Brayboy appeared in federal court on Thursday after his arrest. During the hearing, Brayboy called himself “the Rosa Parks of 9/11 truth” and told Magistrate Judge Mona Majzoub that he had not been able to read the charges because he did not have his glasses.
An attorney appointed to represent him did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday night.
Brayboy is being held without bond. A detention hearing that was scheduled for Friday has been postponed until Monday.
His victims welcomed the development.
“I give great deference to free speech, but when Mr. Brayboy moved from the vulgar and vile to threatening, it was a different issue — particularly when he intimated knowledge of my personal life and habits, and began including those close to me in his litany of threats,” Detroit News Editorial Page Editor Nolan Finley said. “For years I’ve arrived at the office to find the most disgusting, degenerate messages on my voicemail. I hope this ends it.”
Another victim, former Detroit News columnist Laura Berman, said: “I’m glad they did the work to arrest him.”
Detroit News Staff Writer Robert Snell contributed to this report.