Apple CEO Tim Cook granted restraining order against alleged stalker

A Superior Court judge in Santa Clara County has granted a temporary restraining order against a woman accused of stalking and harassing Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook for more than a year.

Julia Lee Choi, 45, of McLean, Va., is accused of making numerous credible threats against Cook, including emailing him photographs of loaded handguns and trespassing onto his residence, according to court documents made public this week. The request for a restraining order was filed Thursday and granted Friday, as first reported in the Mercury News.

Though many of the threats were aimed at Cook, the order protects all Apple employees because of what the company described in its request as Choi’s “erratic, threatening and bizarre behavior.”

The restraining order bars Choi from possessing guns and from approaching or contacting Cook or other Apple employees, among other actions.

“Apple believes the respondent may be armed and is still in the South Bay Area and intends to return to Apple’s CEO’s residence or locate him otherwise in the near future,” court documents say.

It was unclear whether Choi has secured legal representation, and attempts to reach her Tuesday were unsuccessful. An attorney for Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The application describes an escalating series of events that began in October 2020, when Choi tweeted that she was Cook’s wife and that he was the father of her twin children. She tweeted at Cook dozens more times and sent him about 200 emails between late October and mid-November, with the messages showing a “significant escalation in tone, becoming threatening and highly disturbing,” documents say.

On Nov. 3 and 4, she sent Cook a series of emails containing photographs showing a loaded handgun and a package of ammunition, according to screenshots submitted with the application. A Nov. 9 email stated that her “patience [was] almost done.”

“My new gun will never return it at this time before I shoot!” one email read.

Choi also used Cook’s name and address to open several fraudulent corporations with “highly offensive corporate names” in various states, documents allege.

By September 2021, she had become “obsessed” with Cook’s residence and drove across the country from Virginia. She appeared at Cook’s Palo Alto home twice in October — at one point fleeing from a police patrol car and telling officers that she “could get violent,” according to the petition.

Palo Alto Police Department spokesman James Reifschneider said Tuesday that the department had no active investigation and no further information to release. Court documents say Choi’s vehicle was searched at the time of the incident, and no weapons were found. It is unknown whether she brought the firearm depicted in the earlier photos to California.

Additional emails and tweets in December and January included more threats of violence and pleas for $500 million in cash.

A court hearing regarding the restraining order is scheduled for March 29.

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