How Feds Tracked Down the Trump Fanatic Accused of Bombarding Parkland Dad With Depraved Threats

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Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Getty
Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Getty

A gun-loving California man allegedly bombarded the father of a school shooting victim with hundreds of emails, calling his late teen a “slut,” a “cunt,” and “human waste,” accusing her dad of molesting her, and signing off his most recent missive: “God Bless President Trump. Fuck joe biden.”

Fresno resident James Catalano, 61, is charged with one count of cyberstalking, following a months-long harassment campaign that targeted prominent gun safety advocate Fred Guttenberg, according to a federal complaint first obtained by The Daily Beast. Guttenberg’s daughter Jaime, 14, was one of 17 people gunned down in 2018 by a fellow student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

The shooter, Nikolas Cruz, pleaded guilty in October to 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder. He is now in the penalty phase of his trial, and a jury continues to deliberate as to whether or not he will receive the death penalty.

Last December, Guttenberg—who is identified only as “F.G.” in the complaint—“began receiving a slew of harassing messages submitted to him through the contact page of his website,” the filing states. “Many of these messages referred to his daughter, the manner of her death, her pain and suffering as she was murdered, and his advocacy against gun violence.”

Guttenberg on Friday confirmed to The Daily Beast that he was the “F.G.” named in the filing, but declined to comment further on the case.

The messages—more than 200 in all—were automatically forwarded from Guttenberg’s website, FredGuttenberg.com, to his personal email, the complaint explains.

One, which Guttenberg received on February 4, read, “fat-ass [Guttenberg], the victim with the dead daughter who is rotting in hell, still cannot commen [sic] on whoopi goldberg,” according to the complaint. “why? because she has black skin and a vagina. therefore, [Guttenberg] is scared. and that’s good. we want [Guttenberg] to be scared and not sleeping at night. fuck off [Guttenberg]. fuck joe biden.”

Another, which Guttenberg got in March, read, “The f*****s, queers, pansexuals, bisexuals and degenerates in the Brandon administration (basically Disney employees) want us to focus on Ukraine,” the complaint states. “But the real war is taking place at our Mexico border. But, as we heard in the famous line from A Few Good Men, you can’t handle the truth, fat fuck [Guttenberg]. Here’s the truth: [Jaime] was SLAUGHTERED; bled from her cunt and head; never came home; you’ll never be the same; you’ll never be happy; you’ll die a useless, angry, ugly fuck. CELEBRATE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

On April 4, Guttenberg got a message reading, “We are having a party every night of this Parkland trial,” according to the complaint. “So glad to celebrate blood and death.”

The next day, “fat fuck [Guttenberg] is dreaming every night of that bloody corpse that never came home from school 4 years ago. orange ribbons up your ass, you molester.”

The deluge continued, unabated, according to the feds. In June, prosecutors say, the messages escalated.

<div class="inline-image__credit">Reuters</div>
Reuters

On June 17, the complaint says Guttenberg received an email through his website, requesting “rape kit results” to “confirm that [Jaime’s] vagina did not contain any DNA from a family member on the day her brains were splattered all over the school hallway.”

On the evening of June 21, Guttenberg tweeted, “Three weeks after the Parkland shooting, & on the day that gun safety legislation was passed in Florida, I stood with @marcorubio & asked him to support what was about to happen in Florida. He refused. He was a waste then and he is a waste now. Florida will elect @valdemings.”

“Less than two hours later, [Guttenberg] received a message through the contact page [of his website] stating, “actually, your daughter was the human waste. An [sic] now, she’s buried just like a piece of shit.”

On June 24, the complaint says, Guttenberg received another email through his website, reading, “Just got my concealed carry permit. Wish [Jaime] was alive so I could show it to her. But damn…..she got slaughtered and is now in hell. CELEBRATE”

Five days later, the feds say Guttenberg got the following note via the site: “Celebrate [Jaime] being slaughtered. Decapitated. Silenced. Dancing no more. God Bless President Trump. Fuck joe biden.”

But Catalano apparently didn’t know he was being watched from afar. In February, Guttenberg's webmaster had added a ReCaptcha widget to the site, logging the IP address of everyone who submitted a comment, the complaint states.

The messages had come in from three different IP addresses, and the feds subpoenaed Comcast for the associated data. They traced one of the IP addresses to Catalano’s home in Fresno. The second one was traced to J-C Markets, Inc., Catalano’s commercial real estate business. The results of the third are still pending, but investigators strongly believe that IP address is also linked to Catalano’s business, according to the complaint.

On Wednesday, FBI agents showed up at Catalano’s door. They showed him printouts of some of the messages sent from the IP addresses allegedly connected to Catalano, who admitted he was behind them, the complaint says.

“Catalano… stated that he believes [Guttenberg] was using his dead daughter to push his political agenda, that Catalano did not like that [Guttenberg] was doing that, and that Catalano was trying to put [Guttenberg] in check by sending him the messages,” according to the complaint.

Catalano remains detained following a Friday afternoon hearing, his lawyer, Jeff Hammerschmidt, told The Daily Beast. A magistrate judge in Fresno ordered Catalano released, but granted the prosecution a 48-hour stay so they could appeal the release order to a federal judge in Miami, Hammerschmidt said. If the Miami judge does not issue a contrary order, Catalano will be released on bail Tuesday at 3 p.m.

Hammerschmidt, who will continue representing Catalano alongside an attorney based in South Florida, where the complaint originated, said he expects federal prosecutors in Miami to seek a grand jury indictment prior to Catalano’s next scheduled court appearance on July 29.

There was no answer on Friday at a phone number listed for Catalano’s J-C Markets.

If convicted, Catalano faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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