A man was arrested over the weekend in an attempt to break into Taylor Swift's New York City apartment, police sources said. Hanks Johnson, 52, allegedly tried to enter the building at about 8:30 p.m. Saturday, when a witness called 911 to report a man breaking into the building, police told the New York Daily News. Swift, 31, has been the victim of several stalkers throughout her career, including one who was sentenced to 30 months in prison after pleading guilty to stalking charges in September.
Saturday was not the first time Johnson has shown up at Swift's Tribeca apartment, located on Franklin Street. He allegedly rang Swift's doorbell at least five times in the past six months and the building's head of security has repeatedly told him to stay away from the premises, according to the criminal complaint. Johnson was charged with criminal trespass and released on his own recognizance during his arraignment Sunday.
After the hearing, Johnson sent direct messages to Swift's Instagram account before reporters. He claimed the predictive text messages seen above the phone's keyboard were actually replies from the "Cardigan" singer. "'Taylor's,' that means that she wants to work with me. You get that?" he told the Daily News. Johnson claimed he is a motivational speaker and wanted to present himself to Swift at her request to "place America back on top" economically. He said they would "increase the vibrations in America."
"She messaged me from her place, I think, and she invited me to come over, that's why I went there," Johnson said. "I went to Franklin St. just to communicate with her about the presentation... and that's when the police came." He also showed the restraining order Bella Hadid and Gigi Hadid took out against him. After he was arrested, Johnson allegedly told police Swift knew he was coming and they are friends. Johnson was also arrested for stalking in October 2019, but the details of that case were unavailable.
Swift has been the target of stalkers for years. In one recent case, Eric Swarbrick of Austin, Texas was sentenced to 30 months in prison and three years of supervised release for stalking and sending threatening letters and emails to Swift and her former record label, Big Machine. Swarbrick sent over 40 letters and emails in 2018, asking the label's CEO to introduce him to Swift, reports the Associated Press. Swarbrick even drove to Nashville three separate times to deliver the letters personally. The messages also became more violent and threatening.
In a 2019 essay for Elle, Swift wrote about learning the importance of being prepared in case something violent ever happened to her. She mentioned how stalkers influenced her fears over the years. "You get enough stalkers trying to break into your house and you kind of start prepping for bad things. Every day I try to remind myself of the good in the world, the love I've witnessed, and the faith I have in humanity," she wrote. "We have to live bravely in order to truly feel alive, and that means not being ruled by our greatest fears."