Florida man arrested for terrorist threats targeting Tesla event

A Florida man is behind bars after police said he traveled to Austin to kill people. He’s accused of targeting Thursday’s Cybertruck release event at Tesla headquarters.

While Elon Musk was planning the unveiling of the Cybertruck at the Tesla Gigafactory Thursday, law enforcement was investigating a man who threatened to kill people at the event.

"Bad guys often times use technology in order to threaten victims," Criminologist Dr. Alex del Carmen said.

According to arrest documents, 20 days before the event, a Tesla Security Operations Manager reported threatening messages sent in an Instagram group chat that said:

Travis County deputies took the threats seriously and started investigating, finding the phone number and name of the person associated with the Instagram account.

"Whenever we get online, whenever we use our phones, even at times you think you’re doing something ‘quote unquote’ anonymously, you really aren’t," Dr. Alex del Carmen said.

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Investigators linked the messages to 28-year-old Florida resident Paul Overeem, who had no known ties to Austin. Two days before the event, though, his truck was spotted on a security camera in Sunset Valley and the day before the event, his phone was in Austin.

"The everyday law enforcement officer or person sitting behind a computer trying to track down threats and abductions and whatnot are people that often go unrecognized, and they truly are heroes," Carmen said.

Investigators said they believe Overeem came to Austin to potentially carry out his threats of a mass casualty event. He was arrested and charged with third degree felony terroristic threat.

Overeem is being held in the Travis County Jail on $300,000 bond.