Denver’s Fox 31 reported a potentially explosive story over the weekend — that local sheriff’s deputies detained the president of Italian shotgun maker Perazzi as a possible terrorist after a tipoff from a taxi driver who had dropped the businessman off at a gun show with several shotguns.
There’s just one problem: The story doesn’t appear to be true.
In the story, reporter Hendrick Sybrandy said he’d spoken to Daniele Perazzi’s U.S. attorney, who told him that Adams County sheriff’s deputies questioned her client before he was released.
The station reported that Perazzi returned to Italy and that his attorney — who wasn’t named in the report — said he may return to pursue legal action.
But Adams County Undersheriff Roger Engelsman told The Daily Caller News Foundation that his agency has no record of the incident.
“Our agency has spent a number of hours trying to come up with some type of documentation or proof that any of this happened,” he said. “We don’t have a dispatch call, we don’t have a case report number pulled, we don’t have a deputy assigned.”
“We had personnel at this location on an extra duty job for security purposes,” he continued. “They weren’t aware of it and they were there all day, mind you. Our duty sergeants weren’t aware of it, we checked all the logs, we’ve checked absolutely everything and we can’t find any information to indicate that our deputies were in contact with this gentleman at all.”
Engelsman said he even checked with Denver Police Department in case Fox 31 got the responding agency wrong. DPD also had no record of questioning Perazzi, he said.
One reason may be that Daniele Perazzi has been dead for nearly a year, according to a statement posted on the gun company’s website Monday which denied the Fox report as “completely lacking any evidence.”
“In fact, Daniele Perazzi has been, unfortunately, dead for nearly a year,” said the statement, which was translated by a fluent Italian speaker at The Daily Caller. “Additionally his son, Mauro, was also not in the USA last Saturday. This means that what the press reported is absolutely false and wrong, and the news was definitely not verified.”
The shotgun company also took issue with what Sybrandy reported that the lawyer told him, that Perazzi was frightened during the incident because he’s not familiar with U.S. gun laws and thought he’d done something wrong.
“The Perazzi company, additionally, contrary to what has been written, knows American weapons laws well, due to it’s extensive and well regarded commercial history in the United States,” the statement reads.“Furthermore it’s difficult to think that this was simply an error, and we believe that someone who has interests not aligned with those of Perazzi S.p.A. created this falsehood exclusively as a defamatory measure.”
The original story was still posted to Fox’s website as of late Tuesday afternoon. A representative of the station’s newsroom declined to comment to The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Larry Stevenson, who runs a program called Taxis on Patrol (TOP) that encourages taxi drivers to report suspicious activity, wrote in an email that the incident wasn’t reported to him.
“Just like law enforcement, we don’t have any calls from our TOP volunteers that would indicate that this incident ever occurred,” he wrote. “We are trying to get to the bottom of this as we speak, however, no one involved has any info other than the news report.”
Engelsman also said he’s interested in getting to the bottom of the strange story and hopes to follow up with the TV station and its sources.
“I intend to follow every potential lead there is out there and we’ll go from there,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned, this issue is still open and active and I intend to follow it up until I get some answers.”
“Let’s face it,” he continued. “If you had a prominent individual from another country that has contact with a law enforcement agency, there’s certainly going to be a record of that.”
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