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Mike Tyson Broadway show target of threatening tweet

The NYPD dispatches a Hercules Team in front

The NYPD dispatches a Hercules Team in front of Longacre Theatre after threats were made on Twitter from a user threatening to shoot people in the audience. Mike Tyson's play “Undisputed Truth” is playing at the theater. (Aug. 7, 2012) Credit: Charles Eckert

The NYPD Tuesday said Twitter has complied with a subpoena and identified the user who threatened to attack a Broadway theater -- similar to the movie theater rampage last month in Colorado.

The Twitter user, whose name police did not release, threatened to open fire inside the Longacre Theatre on Broadway, where boxer Mike Tyson's one-man show "Undisputed Truth" is playing.

"This ---- ain't no joke yo - I'm serious, people are gonna die like aurora," the unidentified user tweeted last week.

The post referred to the July 20 shooting in a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., that left 12 people dead and 58 injured.

Reactions from theatergoers Tuesday were mixed.

"If someone makes a threat like that, I'd take it seriously," said Jay Pierre, 26, who was visiting from Texas.

Joe Munley, 56, of Scranton, Pa., who used to spar with Tyson, brought his family to see the former heavyweight champion perform Tuesday.

"It's total nonsense," said Munley. "It's probably somebody who doesn't like Mike."

The NYPD, however, took the threats seriously and posted two officers next to the theater's side door Tuesday.

The NYPD's Intelligence Division learned of the threats late Friday and early Saturday and immediately asked Twitter to identify the user, NYPD spokesman Paul J. Browne said. He said Twitter initially refused.

By Tuesday afternoon, some tweets sent by the user, under the handle @obamasmistress, had been removed from Twitter.

A spokeswoman for Twitter declined to comment Tuesday, but the NYPD said this was the company's response to the department's Saturday request:

"While we do invoke emergency-disclosure procedures when it appears that a threat is present, specific and immediate, this does not appear to fall under those strict parameters as per our policies," the email said.

Screenshots of tweets by @obamasmistress posted on New York magazine's website showed that the user also threatened to kill a lot of people, including Kim Kardashian, Kristen Stewart, Justin Bieber, Chris Brown, Ellen Page, Perez Hilton and Wendy Williams.

The NYPD's request is the latest Internet battle pitting public safety against privacy rights.

"This isn't about protecting a confidential source or information. This involves someone allegedly tweeting a threat for the world to read," explained Ken Paulson, president of the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University.

When there's a dispute between First Amendment rights and safety, the courts look at whether there is an "imminent and real risk," said Arthur Eisenberg, legal director for the New York Civil Liberties Union. If there is, judges typically require the subpoena to be enforced.

"The First Amendment is not absolute," Eisenberg said. "The burden for the claimed revelation of this information is on lawyers for the police department or the district attorney."

With Igor Kossov and Ellen Yan

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