Tennessee Man Embroiled in Twitter Handle Dispute Dies When Cops Show Up at His House on Bogus Tip
Mark Herring, the original owner of the @Tennessee Twitter handle, dies after two teens send a bogus tip to the police.
Mark Herring, 60, was a huge fan of the Tennessee Volunteers and his home state, as evidenced by his Twitter handle, @Tennessee.
The southern native was able to snag the handle because he joined Twitter in its infancy, and though many made Herring offers to release his handle, he refused, according to People.
On April 27 of 2020, the situation escalated when pizza deliveries showed up at the doors of his children and ex-wife, all marked as “cash on delivery."
Corinna Fitch, one of Herring's daughters, posted a message on Facebook to her father: “Hey, I need you to call me."
Fitch told WKRN-TV how she and her sisters communicated over the phone, sharing how they had all received pizza orders that appeared to be for their father.
Greg Hooge, Herring’s son-in-law, had suspicions this was more than a prank, according to Newsweek.
“I thought maybe something is wrong with Mark. I started calling him. I finally reached his live-in girlfriend,” he said.
“She said, ‘everything is not OK. I’m in the back of a cop car. I got to go.'” he told the publication.
Hooge recalled concern from the neighborhood as well. “His neighbor called and said, ‘there’s police everywhere and they think a man has killed a woman and he’s on your property. You need to take cover,'” he shared with WKRN.
Authorities arrived on the scene with guns drawn. Herring grabbed his own gun when he heard people on his property, and complied when ordered to put his hands up, according to the outlet.
During the interaction, however, the 60-year-old had a massive heart attack.
They rushed him to Sumner Regional Medical Center, but he did not survive.
The family put the pieces together when the family learned that Herring had received an anonymous demand to hand over the Twitter handle.
Authorities say Shane Sonderman, 18, and a minor based in the United Kingdom were both involved in the plan, with an estimated six other alleged victims of Sonderman’s online antics, according to WKRN.
The alleged British co-conspirator is still a minor and will not be extradited to the United States, according to People.
According to documents filed in Western Tennessee District Court, Sonderman pled guilty in March to wire fraud/conspiracy, interstate communication of threats, false information and hoaxes, and conspiracy. He was sentenced to five years in prison, according to The Daily Beast.
“He’s the one that collected all of our information…my address, my sister, my mom’s, my other sister’s. He put it on a channel on Discord, which is a gaming chat forum.” Fitch told the outlet.
The handles typically sell for $3,000-$4,000 — “pennies compared to a life,” Fitch said to the local outlet.
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