Social media hoax prompts early closure of Brookhaven Starbucks, police investigation



A Brookhaven Starbucks was forced to close two hours early Jan. 7 after an alleged hoax went viral on social media.

A Facebook user claiming to be an Atlanta Starbucks employee named Shanell Rivers, who is Black, published a post to a private group called “White People Vs Black People (The Original). The writer claimed to have spat, dripped blood and sprinkled dog feces into drinks, licked the bread on sandwiches, wiped tables with bathroom rags and overcharged customers.

All listed activities were directed toward White customers, according to the post.

Screenshots of the post quickly went viral on social media.

Through the social media flurry, the Brookhaven Starbucks location on Peachtree Road began receiving threatening phone calls Jan. 7 and closed its doors two hours early, a Starbucks spokesperson told The Washington Post.

Starbucks spokespeople could not confirm that report to The Champion.

“This post is completely false. Starbucks does not have a partner (employee) by the name Shanell Rivers,” Starbucks told The Champion in an email. “We are working with local authorities to determine how these fake posts were created and circulated.”

Brookhaven Police Maj. Brandon Gurley told The Washington Post the department increased patrols in the area around the Peachtree Road Starbucks following its early closure. When contacted by The Champion, Gurley said in an email that the postings were still under investigation.

“We are working to identify the true identity of the person or persons responsible for the postings so that we can better understand their motives,” the email read. “We are working with Starbucks Corporation and our local retail establishment in this investigation.”

Gurley closed the email saying he hoped to have more information in a formal press release in the days and weeks to come.

The Champion also spoke with a Starbucks representative on the phone who refused to speak on the record about the Jan. 7 incident, but did say the location has been open and running normally since Jan. 8.


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