ADAMS COUNTY - A Fox31 reporter is standing by a story that a gun company executive was flagged as a potential terrorist, despite denials by nearly all parties mentioned in the original report.
9NEWS reported serious questions Tuesday night about the report which aired Saturday.
Fox31 reporter Julie Hayden doubled down on the original report Wednesday morning in an appearance on the Peter Boyles Show on 630 KHOW. (The FOX31 report was presented by reporter Hendrik Sybrandy, but Hayden identified herself as the reporter who gathered the information in dispute.)
"I'm not authorized to speak on behalf of the station, but I am the reporter who got the original tip," Hayden said.
"I think that something did happen. I think there is some essential truth to it," Hayden continued.
The Adams County Sheriff's Office issued a blistering statement Wednesday flatly denying the Fox31 report and requesting a retraction or correction. Read the full statement from Adams County here, http://on9news.tv/Z0ed0m.
"It is stunning to us that they have not stepped up and said they were wrong," Sgt. Paul Gregory said. "[Fox31] had a responsibility to fact check and extensively verify information prior to going on the air and making claims that were false."
The Sheriff's Office noted that man hours across three divisions were spent investigating Fox31's claim.
Gregory called Fox31's actions "unfortunate and disturbing" and said news director Ed Kosowski did not respond to the Sheriff's Office's phone call requesting additional information.
Kosowski has not responded to a 9NEWS request for comment about the report that Daniele Perazzi - president of the world-famous Perazzi gun brand and grandson of its famous founder - was detained at the Colorado Gun Collectors Association show near 58th Avenue and Washington Street. Fox31 says a cab driver alerted police thinking Perazzi was a potential terrorist.
In addition to the Adams County Sheriff's Office, the gun company, Taxis on Patrol and the Colorado Gun Collectors Association all claim the reported incident never happened.
The Perazzi company issued a statement in Italian on Tuesday denying the incident occurred. A US representative for the company said its founder, Daniele Perazzi died last year, and that he does not have a grandson named Daniele. The current CEO of the company is the founder's son, Mauro. The Perazzi representative said the company did not have anyone in Denver over the weekend and called the story "totally fabricated."
The Adams County Sheriff's Office, identified in the Fox31 report as the agency that "interrogated Perazzi," said Tuesday they have no record of arresting, detaining or even contacting someone at the gun show.
"We have no indication whatsoever that we were involved with this," Sgt. Paul Gregory said Tuesday. "There is no indication that we arrested, detained or contacted anybody from Perazzi. The only knowledge that we had of this incident was from the Fox31 broadcast on Saturday."
On the radio Wednesday morning, Hayden said she was unsure herself of why Fox31 mentioned Adams County as the agency involved. Hayden did not specify which law enforcement agency she believes was involved.
"I think it's a hoax," Colorado Gun Collectors Association president Les Palmer said. "It didn't happen here."
The Fox31 report linked the cab driver's call to police to the program widely-known as Taxis on Patrol. The program, officially named Transportation on Patrol, or TOP, encourages cabbies to report suspected crime.
"There's no factual information out there," TOP director Larry Stevenson said.
"My program has been damaged by this," Stevenson said. "Taxis On Patrol - we have been across the globe since 2011. I literally have been getting calls from around the world related to this program from our partners in the UK, in England [and] all over globe to say 'Is this true?' No, it is absolutely not true. There is no proof whatsoever that that type of incident ever took place."
Even gun-rights blogger David Codrea, who writes the blog War on Guns, has backed off the initial report.
"Things are getting bizarre," Codrea said. "I have to conclude that the source of the story for reasons unknown led sincere people into believing it was factual."
The only cited source in the Fox31 report was an unnamed female attorney reportedly representing Perazzi.
9NEWS learned Tuesday that source was 27-year-old Korrine Aguirre of Walsenburg, in southern Colorado.
Reached by phone Tuesday night, Aguirre confirmed that she was Fox31's "attorney" source.
"Yeah," Aguirre told 9NEWS Tuesday night. "There was a comment that I had made the other day that I probably shouldn't have made. Apparently that blew up a lot bigger than it was supposed to."
When Aguirre was asked if she actually is an attorney, the phone line went dead, and she did not answer repeated return calls.
An online resume claims she graduated from the University of Denver's Sturm College of Law in 2011. A DU spokesperson was not immediately able to confirm that.
Aguirre does not appear in the state's database of attorneys maintained by the Colorado Supreme Court.
The original story went viral online and caused concern for gun-rights supporters. 9NEWS received numerous emails inquiring as to why the story wasn't being broadly covered. This led to the initial investigation into the Fox31 report.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The original web story on Fox31's website has since been removed from the site as of Wednesday morning.
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