David Leavitt has been fired as a freelance reporter just hours after he fired off a string of insensitive tweets making jokes about a bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, U.K., that left at least 19 people dead.
The news reporter went viral for the tasteless jokes in the wake of Monday’s attack, which was described by officials in the U.K. as a suicide bombing. Leavitt wrote a series of jokes that garnered thousands of re-tweets and widespread condemnation.
“MULTIPLE CONFIRMED FATALITIES at Manchester Arena,” David Leavitt wrote on Twitter. “The last time I listened to Ariana Grande I almost died too.”
“Honestly, for over a year I thought an Ariana Grande was something you ordered at Starbucks,” Leavitt added.
As the New York Daily News reported, David Leavitt was a freelance reporter for several media outlets including CBS, AXS, Yahoo! and Examiner. Within an hour of his tweets going viral, many of those media outlets began publicly distancing themselves from Leavitt and noting that he would not be working for them again.
CBS News, identified in various news reports as his primary media outlet, quickly noted that he is not an active employee with the organization.
Other media outlets where David Leavitt had worked also chimed in to note that he had effectively been fired.
“This person is not employed by AXS. We don’t endorse this despicable comment,” AXS wrote on its officials Twitter account (via the New York Daily News).
After the uproar created by his comments, Leavitt tried to walk back the remarks.
“Sorry 4 offending. Didn’t realize the magnitude of the tragedy. I always make stupid jokes about whatevers trending. Condolences 2 families,” he wrote on Twitter.
The attack took place after the conclusion of Monday’s Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena. It was the deadliest attack in the U.K. in more than a decade, the New York Times noted.
“Panic and mayhem seized the crowd at the Manchester Arena as the blast reverberated through the building, just as the show was ending and pink balloons were dropping from the rafters in a signature flourish by Ms. Grande, a 23-year-old pop star on an international tour.
“Traumatized concertgoers, including children separated from parents, screamed and fled in what appeared to be the deadliest episode of terrorism in Britain since the 2005 London subway bombings.”
Witnesses said they saw a bright flash and heard a deafening blast, which was heard in the surrounding area as well. The explosion was followed by chaos, with witnesses saying that there was a rush of people trying to escape the arena that led to some people being trampled.
“Everyone was just getting out of their seats and walking toward the stairs when all of a sudden a huge sound, which sounded like an explosion, went off,” witness Karen Ford told the BBC (via the New York Times).
The attack was denounced by officials both in the U.K. and abroad, and officials within Britain had been prepared for an attack of some kind. The domestic intelligence agency MI5 had placed the terrorist threat at “severe” for several months. As the New York Times noted, that meant officials considered it “highly likely” that a terrorist attack could be carried out.
In the hours after the bombing, it was not immediately clear what group was responsible. Both al Qaeda and ISIS have not yet claimed responsibility, and local officials said they were continuing to investigate the circumstances surrounding the bombing.
The freelance reporter who sparked controversy with his joking tweets made attempts to fix the mess. David Leavitt later deleted the tweet joking about the Manchester suicide bombing, but the damage appears to already be done.
[Featured Image by Rui Vieira/Getty Images]