In the early-morning hours, a string of troubling, even threatening, tweets from Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn’s Twitter account went out, but officials say he was not the author of any of them. The mayor’s account had been hacked, according to city officials.
The hack appeared to start before 4 a.m. Since then, dozens of tweets have been sent. Hackers have also changed the account’s bio as well as profile and cover photos.
As of 9:30 a.m., it appeared the tweets from the hacker had been taken down and Buckhorn’s account was restored.
Many tweets included racist and sexist language, while some included threats.
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One tweet appeared to encourage a shooting at the Tampa VA.
WFLA News Channel 8 reported one tweet included a false emergency alert, saying, “EMERGENCY ALERT BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAD INBOUND TO TAMPA BAY AREA. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.”
Another indicated a bomb threat at Tampa International Airport, when the hackers tweeted, “@FlyTPA I have hidden a bomb in a package somewhere at the Tampa international airport. Looking forward to seeing some minorities die,” according to WFLA.
Tampa police told ABC Action News the threats are being investigated and are not credible. Mayor Buckhorn was made aware of the incident.
There was no evidence of a bomb at the airport, Tampa International Airport officials told FOX 13.
Airport officials are aware of the tweet and told Spectrum Bay News 9 there are currently no changes to security checkpoints.
The city of Tampa released a statement Thursday morning about the tweets, saying they were clearly not sent by Buckhorn.
“Earlier this morning we noticed someone hacked Mayor Buckhorn’s (T)witter account, this clearly was not Mayor Buckhorn. Upon noticing the hack we immediately began investigating these reprehensible tweets. We will work with the Tampa Police Department as well as all investigators to figure out how his breach was made. We urge residents to change their passwords and continue to alert officials when they see an unlikely change in account activity. We are working with law enforcement to investigate all threats made by this hack,” said Ashley Bauman, spokeswoman for the city.
Buckhorn told 10News WTSP he is on a hunting trip in South Carolina.
Tampa is holding an election for mayor on March 5.