“He has threatened to reveal my identity putting me and my family at great personal risk,” @AmyMek tweeted on Thursday. “But it’s MUCH worse than you can imagine …”
Mr. O’Brien, whose phone number is listed in his Twitter profile, heard from her supporters immediately, he said. “I was getting threatening calls as I was finishing my story,” he said.
The story was published Thursday evening. One detail in particular enraged Ms. Mekelburg’s supporters: Mr. O’Brien learned that her husband, Sal Siino, was a senior vice president at WWE, World Wrestling Entertainment, and when he questioned the organization about its knowledge of Ms. Mekelburg’s Twitter activity, Mr. Siino was fired.
Ms. Mekelburg attacked Mr. O’Brien in a series of 20 posts to Twitter on Thursday, asking for prayers for her family and expressing gratitude to President Trump, who she said has retweeted her in the past, and his attacks on “fake news.”
Some of her supporters posted Mr. O’Brien’s photo on Twitter. He has shown some of the more violent threats to the police. He declined to say where he lives for his family’s safety, and raised the specter of “Pizzagate,” the 2016 incident in which a 29-year-old North Carolina man fired a military-style assault rifle inside a Washington, D.C., pizzeria, believing what he’d read online about children trapped in a supposed sex-slave ring.
“This actually does lead to real violence — that’s my real fear,” Mr. O’Brien said Monday. “Someone just shows up with an AR-15 and thinks they’re doing God’s work.”
He responded to attacks on Twitter, telling one user upset about the WWE detail to “Go DDT himself,” a reference to a wrestling move. Twitter suspended his account for several hours, viewing the language as a threat, he said.