Swain’s art store in Glendale found itself as an unlikely target of public furry after an online video of a Hawthorne police officer shooting a Rottweiler to death went viral Monday.
How Swain’s got dragged into the public blowback appears to be the result of a roughshod search performed by a handful of bloggers. They apparently did a quick online search for the name of the only Hawthorne police officer associated to the shooting incident’s response — Scott Swain, the department’s spokesman. But even then, they pulled and posted the address for the art store.
So by Monday morning, not only was the public told to direct their anger at a police official who was merely acting as a spokesman, but they were disseminating the address of an art store 24 miles away in Glendale.
But by then, the damage had been done, spreading through social media sites. And that’s when the threatening and mean-spirited phone calls started.
“We adore animals here and have nothing to do with it,” said Swain’s co-owner Lori Wiest.
The video, posted on YouTube, shows a bystander, Leon Rosby, walking with his leashed 80-pound Rottweiler on Sunday and exchanging words with the officers who were at the scene of a separate police standoff.
After he placed his dog inside his vehicle and allowed officers to handcuff him for allegedly interfering with police, the Rottweiler jumped out of an open window and came toward an officer, who then open fire, killing the dog as witnesses screamed in horror.
Calls began inundating the art store Monday night, overtaking all eight phone lines.
Callers have asked to speak with Scott Swain, some were nice, others have hung up after realizing it’s an art store, Wiest said. Still, others have refused to hang up, forcing the store to hold all its lines.
“The nastiness has been pretty intense,” Wiest said.
On Tuesday, store employees got another surprise — the delivery of two pizzas, which they never ordered.
As a precaution, Glendale police officers were patrolling the area and began logging any threatening calls the store received, according Sgt. Tom Lorenz.
Threatening emails and calls also came into the Glendale Police Department regarding Scott Swain, he added.
Glendale police are forwarding any threats made against Scott Swain to Hawthorne police. A representative for the Hawthorne Police Department was not immediately available for comment.
“Social media is great, but this is how misinformation can be a problem for people,” Lorenz said.
-- Veronica Rocha, firstname.lastname@example.org