Politics & Government

Startup puts CEO on leave after online posts about assassinating Trump

President-elect Donald Trump speaks Nov. 9 during a rally in New York. The CEO of a San Diego company has been placed on leave following social media posts on election night threatening to assassinate Trump.
President-elect Donald Trump speaks Nov. 9 during a rally in New York. The CEO of a San Diego company has been placed on leave following social media posts on election night threatening to assassinate Trump. Associated Press

The chief executive of San Diego cybersecurity startup PacketSled Inc. has been put on administrative leave after election night posts on social media about assassinating President-elect Donald Trump.

Matt Harrigan, who founded PacketSled in 2013, wrote the comments on his Facebook account as election night unfolded. The account has since been deleted, but his comments were copied and posted on the website Reddit.

On Monday, Packetsled issued a statement saying Harrigan had been placed on leave.

“PacketSled takes recent comments made by our CEO seriously,” it said. “Once we were made aware of these comments, we immediately reported this information to the Secret Service and will cooperate fully with any inquiries.”

Harrigan’s posts on election night included one saying, “I’m going to kill the president. Elect,” according to the Reddit copy of his Facebook comments.

After a friend responded “You just need to get high,” Harrigan wrote, “Nope, getting a sniper rifle and perching myself where it counts. Find a bedroom in the White House that suits you. … I'll find you.”

On Sunday, Harrigan turned to Twitter to apologize, saying his comments were meant as a joke.

“My humble apologies that a flawed joke has become public/out of context. My poor judgement does not represent the views of @packetsled customers, investors or the officers of @packetsled,” Harrigan wrote in a series of tweets. “I have no malicious intention towards the #POTUS, and apologize to all for my lack of judgement and offensive commentary. I wish you all well.”

Efforts to reach Harrigan and PacketSled were unsuccessful. The company makes forensics software that detects where a cyberattack is coming from, what files are being targeted and which devices are being affected, among other things.

The company raised $5 million in a first round of venture capital funding in July, led by San Diego’s Keshif Ventures, with Blu Ventures and JHS Ventures participating.

At a Donald Trump rally in Reno, Nev., Secret Service agents rushed him off the stage after an incident in the crowd near the front of the stage. The FBI director told congressional leaders the agency stands by its position earlier this year again

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