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Although it’s far more common to hear of Hollywood celebrities having to deal with stalkers, it seems that Apple’s CEO Tim Cook has also become the target of unwelcome attention from a very disturbed “fan.”
According to court documents discovered by Dave Gershgorn of OneZero, a 41-year-old San Francisco man by the name of Rakesh “Rocky” Sharma has not only made multiple threats against Apple’s Executive Team, and most specifically against CEO Tim Cook, but has also been discovered trespassing at least twice on the property of Cook’s private residence.
An affidavit filed by William Burns, who is identified as a Global Security Specialist in Executive Protection at Apple—essentially a bodyguard for Tim Cook and other company executives—noted that the threats began last fall when Sharma “called an Apple executive’s phone and left disturbing voicemails” on at least two occasions, on Sept. 25 and Oct. 2, 2019. While Burns doesn’t identify who the executive is, the overall context of the statement suggests that it was likely Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook.
In his testimony, Burns goes on to note that in early December Sharma was caught actually stalking Tim Cook, physically trespassing on the grounds of Cook’s home in Palo Alto, entering through a closed gate in an attempt to “deliver flowers and a bottle of champagne,” to the Apple CEO.
It’s unclear what happened during that first trespass, but Sharma subsequently “continued to tag the Apple executive” (again, presumably Cook) on Twitter, with posts that “included sexualized and inappropriate photos of Mr. Sharma with reference to the Apple executive.”
Sharma returned to Cook’s home again last month, during which he trespassed on the property, entering through a locked gate, and rang the doorbell. The Palo Alto Police were notified, however Sharma had left the property before they arrived.
Burns adds that “Mr. Sharma’s continuous and increasingly threatening conduct is causing me and other Apple employees significant emotional distress and gives me grave concern for our personal safety.”
Another page of the report shared by Gershgorn notes that Sharma “has stated that he knows where members of Apple’s Executive Team resides” [sic] and that he once stated that “I don’t use ammunition but I know people who do.”
According to CNET, Apple has been granted a temporary restraining order against Sharma, ordering him to stay away from Cook’s residence in Silicon Valley as well as Cook’s three security guards. NBC News adds that the order also requires Sharma to stay clear of other members of the executive team and Apple Park. The current order is only temporary, however, and is set to expire on March 3, however a hearing is scheduled for that day as well, at which point Sharma may face other legal consequences, which will likely in the very least include the restraining order being made permanent.
Apple has declined to comment on the matter, referring journalists to the court documents. When contacted by CNET, Sharma described the interaction as “a misunderstanding,” although much of his documented behaviour suggests that there are serious mental health issues involved here, with Sharma having posted videos to Twitter telling Tim Cook to “Shoo out of the Bay Area” and making “nonsensical” calls to Apple where in one case he asked for a cash settlement because he claimed an “Apple employee laughed at him over the phone” and in another he told Apple that his attorney was Nancy Pelosi, the U.S. Speaker of the House of Representatives. He has also claimed that Apple’s CEO is a criminal and that Apple tried to have him killed while he was in the hospital.
As 9to5Mac observes, the reference to Cook only having three security guards is somewhat surprising for a man who is the Chief Executive of the world’s most valuable company, but also suggests that this is likely at Cook’s request as the man prefers to live a modest lifestyle out of the spotlight at much as possible. In fact, Cook only began travelling by private corporate jet after Apple’s Board of Directors insisted on it for security reasons a few years back. Until this current situation is resolved, however, it seems likely that at least a few additional team members will be added to Cook’s security detail.