A 28-year-old Florida man, Paul Ryan Overeem, was arrested in Travis County, Texas, near the site of the public launch event for Tesla's new Cybertruck pickups on Thursday, where he had allegedly threatened to carry out a "mass casualty attack."
According to reports, Overeem described this plot prior to the event in an Instagram group chat under the username “ufotnoitalumis,” according to reporting from the Chronicle and NBC. Tesla was reportedly made aware of the threats on November 10 and alerted law enforcement. Investigators, with the help of a subpoena of Instagram, identified the user as Overeem.
Those Instagram messages apparently threatened the event, railed against technology a la the Unabomber, and also threatened suicide. Per NBC, they said: “I wanna die. My thoughts haven’t been free for over a year. All the electronics around me;” and "yeah so at teh (sic) Tesla event I'm planning to attach (sic) so up to you guys to stop me;" as well as "I plan on killing people at that even (sic) ok (sic) November 30th and I would like you do something about it so I don't have to."
Authorities reportedly used cell signals to track down Overeem in Austin the day before the launch event.
The arrest warrant reportedly did not specify whether Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who attended the public event in Austin and personally delivered several trucks there, was a direct target of the threats.
The unveiling apparently proceeded without incident on Thursday, although they were still delivered two years late.
Overeem now faces charges of making terroristic threats, a felony that could carry a prison term of up to 20 years, and is currently held in Travis County on a $300,000 bond.
Feature image of the Tesla "Gigafactory" in Austin that manufactured the Tesla Model Y and the "Cybertruck" via Getty Images/Art Wager.