The FBI arrested a Maryland man on Friday and charged him with cyberstalking for sending tweets designed to cause a Dallas journalist diagnosed with epilepsy to have seizures.
John Rayne Rivello, 29, of Salisbury, Md., was arrested in Maryland on Friday on a criminal complaint filed in the Northern District of Texas, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
According to the allegations in the affidavit filed with the complaint, on Dec. 15, Kurt Eichenwald, who is known to suffer from epilepsy, received a Twitter message from Rivello, the release said.
The tweet contained an animated strobe image embedded with the statement, “You deserve a seizure for your post.” Upon viewing the flashing strobe image the victim immediately suffered a seizure, the release said.
Additionally, according to the affidavit, evidence received prior to the issuance of a search warrant showed that Rivello’s Twitter account contained direct messages from Rivello’s account to other Twitter users concerning the victim.
Among those direct messages were statements by Rivello, which said, “I hope this sends him into a seizure,” “Spammed this at [victim] let’s see if he dies,” and “I know he has epilepsy.”
Additional evidence showed Rivello’s iCloud account contained a screenshot of a Wikipedia page for the victim, which had been altered to show a fake obituary with the date of death listed as Dec. 16, 2016.
Rivello’s iCloud account also contained screen shots from epilepsy.com with a list of commonly reported epilepsy seizure triggers and from dallasobserver.com discussing the victim’s report to the Dallas Police Department and his attempt to identify the Twitter user, the release said.