State law enforcement brandishing firearms Monday raided the Tallahassee residence of Rebekah Jones, the previous Office of Overall health employee who created the state’s much-praised COVID-19 dashboard right before getting fired more than what she said was refusing to “manipulate info.”
“They pointed a gun in my confront. They pointed guns at my little ones,” Jones tweeted shortly before 5 p.m.
Jones — who introduced her own COVID-19 dashboard immediately after she was fired, and utilized crowdsourcing to raise dollars to assist it — reported the agents knocked on her door around 8:30 a.m. that morning, took all her “hardware and tech” just after demonstrating her a warrant dependent on a complaint submitted by the Florida Division of Wellness.
A video clip accompanying the article displays Florida Section of Regulation Enforcement agents in vests at the front doorway with guns drawn, asking who else was in the house. She claimed her husband and two youngsters were being within as they escorted her out of the home.
The video clip shows an agent entering the dwelling with his gun drawn, contacting for her partner to appear down the stairs. When an agent instructed her to quiet down, Jones mentioned, “He just pointed a gun at my kids!”
FDLE spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger sent a assertion confirming the seizure of pc machines at Jones’s Tallahassee property and reported brokers are investigating.
“FDLE commenced an investigation November 10, 2020, immediately after receiving a complaint from the Section of Overall health (DOH) relating to unauthorized access to a Department of Health and fitness messaging procedure which is section of an emergency warn technique, to be used for emergencies only,” Plessinger stated.
Plessinger reported when brokers arrived, they knocked and waited 20 minutes for Jones to answer the door.
“Ms. Jones refused to occur to the doorway for 20 minutes and hung up on brokers. After a number of attempts and verbal notifications that regulation enforcement officers had been there to serve a legal lookup warrant, Ms. Jones sooner or later came to the doorway and allowed brokers to enter,” Plessinger stated. “Ms. Jones’ family was upstairs when agents designed entry into the house.”
The investigation is lively, she extra.
“As in all scenarios, our part is to determine the specifics of what transpired and a State Legal professional establishes irrespective of whether or not charges are filed.”
Jones, the former geographic details science manager, was fired for insubordination in Could immediately after staying reprimanded quite a few instances, condition officials claimed. Her paperwork will not condition a induce for her getting fired, but she statements she was terminated for refusing to manipulate well being data to cast Florida in a a lot more favorable light-weight.
She tweeted: “They took my phone and the laptop I use each and every day to put up the circumstance numbers in Florida, and school circumstances for the overall state. They took proof of corruption at the point out stage. They claimed it was about a safety breach. This was DeSantis. He despatched the Gestapo.”
The DOH claimed just lately that a person hacked the crisis communications channel. Jones told a reporter that she is not a hacker: “I don’t know how to do that stuff.”
The FDLE affidavit for the search warrant claimed a special agent spoke to a DOH official with the Preparedness and Reaction workplace about a suspected breach of the tailor made-produced communications technique for crisis administration.
An unknown topic attained accessibility to the procedure and sent out a team textual content declaring: “It truly is time to converse up in advance of a different 17,000 persons are lifeless. You know this is completely wrong. You really don’t have to be a component of this. Be a hero. Discuss out prior to it truly is also late.”
The textual content information was despatched from the ESF-8 mail account to 1,750 recipients prior to the software program seller could prevent the concept from remaining transmitted further more, the affidavit stated.
The ESF-8 account is the state’s unexpected emergency help purpose for general public well being and healthcare products and services and is made use of by many men and women from several companies, such as DOH and Crisis Management.
“Once they are no lengthier affiliated with ESF-8 they are no for a longer time licensed to obtain the multi-user team,” the FDLE affidavit said. All licensed consumers use the similar user name and password.
The FDLE investigator statements he identified as a result of his “investigative sources” that an Web Protocol, or IP, address associated with Jones’s Comcast account was the source of the ESF-8 textual content concept.
An IP handle identifies the location that an World-wide-web link was produced but isn’t going to establish that Jones despatched the textual content message, in accordance to IT authorities.
Jones informed a reporter for the Usa Nowadays Community-Florida that her resources at DOH told her an electronic mail experienced gone out across the department from the ESF-8 email account all over the time that five of eight crew leaders had been fired.
Jones instructed the reporter that a sequence of firings and resignations in DOH, which include lately departed public info officer Alberto Moscoso’s departure, had been “a purge.”
“It’s like a massacre. And individuals are not the only people that have been fired or left,” she explained.
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Jones also mentioned she has backups of the details and documents that electricity her internet websites that ended up stored on the seized hardware.
“This is what happens to researchers who do their career actually,” Jones tweeted. “This is what takes place to people who converse fact to electrical power.”
Florida Now reporter Alessandro Sassoon and Palm Beach Article information reporter Chris Persaud contributed to this report. Contact Jeff Schweers at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @jeffschweers.
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