A 62-year-old Fresno, California resident, James Catalano, who had sent a string of disturbing messages to an anti-gun violence campaigner whose daughter was tragically lost in the 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Florida, has been sentenced to a year in a federal prison.
In March, Catalano admitted guilt to the charges of cyberstalking in a case that has stirred emotions nationally. The messages began arriving in December 2021 and targeted a parent, identified as “F.G.” in legal documents, whose child was among the victims at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The predatory messages contained distressing references to “his daughter, her unpleasant end, the agony she endured as she was killed, and his fight against firearms”.
On June 21, 2022, “F.G.” had posted a tweet reading, “Three weeks after the Parkland bloodbath, and the day firearm safety legislation was about to be passed in Florida, I confronted @marcorubio to back this important step. His denial was disappointing then and still is. Florida will elect @valdemings.”
Catalano was later identified as the one who sent the messages related to the tweet amongst others. He responded to the tweet, and followed up with a stream of offensive messages until July 2022 across several online mediums. A Monday news release from the office of the US Attorney for the Southern District of Florida described Catalano’s messages as making “graphic descriptions of the victim’s daughter’s death with an emphasis on the ongoing gun control argument and the victim’s fight against gun violence.”
Catalano was located when the federal authorities were notified and traced two IP addresses linked to the sender to Catalano’s residence and workplace in Fresno. Having waived his Miranda rights, Catalano conceded in a late July 2022 meeting with law enforcement to sending the messages.
Following the sentencing, a tweet from Guttenberg stated that this judgement “sends a stern warning to cyberstalkers persecuting the families of shooting victims about their inevitable apprehension and subsequent punishment”.