Pride picnic postponed after group says they received threat of violence

(KBTX)
Published: Jul. 2, 2016 at 5:01 PM CDT
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UPDATE:9:50 p.m.

Violent threats made towards College Station's Pride Community force the group to cancel its annual picnic.

Hundreds planned to attend College Station's Pride Community Center's Annual Picnic on July 10th.

"With the Orlando recent events, I would have expected 400, 450, 500 people,” said Judy LeUnes, former president of College Station’s Pride Community Center

But now the event that was supposed to be filled with peace and fellowship will not be happening, after social media threats surfaced earlier this week.

"Get some guns it's time to get on the news" the threat read, "and my heart just stopped,” said LGBT activist Mandy Perry.

News 3 spoke with Perry, the one who discovered the online threat on the phone Saturday.

Perry actually lives in Pennsylvania, but saw the threat against the College Station event on the social media site Tumblr.

Someone posted a flyer for the picnic, and a viewer commented, "Lock and load. Time to make the news."

"I googled the name of the park, and pride and found their Facebook page messaged them, put in a FBI tip,” said Perry.

"That put chills through all of us,” said LeUnes.

LeUnes is the former president of pride community center, and said the group already paid officers for extra security. They said it is the first year they have had to.

"We were already at a heighten state of security. We just felt like there wasn't a way to keep everyone safe,” said LeUnes.

Two subpoenas issued to Tumbr have been ignored, but authorities are pushing for answers. College Station Police released a statement:

“On Wednesday, June 29, members of the Pride Community Board of Directors received notice of a threat made against their annual picnic on the social media app Tumblr. They reported the threat to CSPD. CSPD investigators, in conjunction with the FBI, began attempting to identify the source of the threat. A subpoena was served on Tumblr requesting information to identify the poster. On June 30, CSPD received another report of the threat from a member of the community. By the morning of July 1, Tumblr had not responded to the subpoena, so CSPD again served them requesting the information to identify the poster. As of 5:00 PM on July 1, there was still no response from Tumblr. With no ability to determine the credibility of the threat, members of the Pride Board opted to cancel the picnic in the interest of public safety. Despite the cancellation, CSPD investigators will continue to follow up on the situation and will work with the FBI to identify any potential charges.”

LeUnes said Mandy is a hero for seeing something, and saying something. She hopes others would do the same.

"When they see a real threat especially when someone is threatening to shoot people at a picnic,” said LeUnes.

"If you disregard something like this - if you step away from something like this you are taking the chance that something terrible like this will happen - and you can't live with that on your conscience,” said Perry.

The group hopes to reschedule the picnic, but they have not said when it will happen.

Original Story:

The annual picnic held by a local group serving the LGBTQA community has been called off for now because the organization says a threat of violence was made.

Pride Community Center President Kay Dennis said Saturday that the threat directed toward the July 10 event came online.

“We were inviting the community at large with social media, as we always do," Dennis said in a statement. "Someone chose to respond with the implication that there might be a shooting. Our board took that threat seriously.”

According to the center, someone reposted a flyer advertising the event and added the comment "Lock and load. Time to make the news."

Dennis says a Pennsylvania blogger, Mandy Perry, saw the comment as she was trying to block the same person following hate speech on Perry's page.

“Mandy is our hero,” Dennis said. “They saw something and they didn’t ignore it. They called the FBI and then contacted us.”

Pride says the FBI and College Station Police are investigating.

The event may be rescheduled in the future. Pride Community Center, which was founded in 2010, has held a picnic each year since 2011. It's touted as a celebration for the LGBT and Allied communities.

“It’s our biggest event, and it’s a lot of fun for everyone," Dennis said in the statement. "Food, games, the park…people visiting and making new friends. This is not something we want to come to an end.”

On the center's Facebook page, a moderator wrote Pride was expecting at least 350 people to attend the event, if not more because of the recent terror attack at a gay nightclub in Orlando, which played into the decision to cancel the event for now.

"This is about safety and keeping people especially children safe," a moderator wrote, responding to criticism of the cancellation.

A moderator also wrote Saturday that authorities had not yet determined whether the threat had come from a local person or someone outside the community.

Dear PCC friends, The Pride Picnic, scheduled for next Sunday July 10, has been postponed. Pride received a threat of...

Posted by Pride Community Center on Saturday, July 2, 2016