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In this Feb. 5, 2017, file photo, U.S. President Donald Trump listens to the Palm Beach Central High School Band as they play at his arrival at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Fla. (AP) In this Feb. 5, 2017, file photo, U.S. President Donald Trump listens to the Palm Beach Central High School Band as they play at his arrival at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Fla. (AP)

In this Feb. 5, 2017, file photo, U.S. President Donald Trump listens to the Palm Beach Central High School Band as they play at his arrival at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Fla. (AP)

Amy Sherman
By Amy Sherman April 3, 2018

Misleading headline says terrorist attacked Trumps -- but it was paint on a sign

An alarmist headline on Facebook went too far in describing what happened in South Florida while President Donald Trump and his family celebrated Easter weekend at his Mar-a-Lago estate.

"Breaking! Terrorist attacks Trumps at Mar A Lago -- police on scene," said an April 2 headline on The Trump Talks, a pro-Trump website.

Facebook users flagged the post as being potentially fabricated, as part of the social network’s efforts to combat online hoaxes. We found that what actually happened at a Trump property in Palm Beach County was an act of vandalism, not terrorism.

The story described those who oppose Trump as "turning to threats of physical violence."

"Now, over this holiday weekend, President Trump and his family had an urgent situation unfold that had the police rushing to the scene, and has everyone wondering when the violence will end?" the story said.

But after several paragraphs, what the story then described wasn’t actually violence -- and it wasn’t at Mar-a-Lago but at the nearby Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach.

The Trump Talks cites a Local 10 TV news report about what actually happened: Red paint was splattered on the Trump International Golf Club sign on the night of March 31. Trump had spent several hours at the golf course earlier in the day.

Multiple news reports said that the U.S. Secret Service and the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office were investigating. News accounts described the incident as vandalism.

We didn’t get much information about the incident from either entity. A Secret Service spokesman referred PolitiFact to the sheriff’s office, and a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office referred PolitiFact to the Secret Service because it is the lead investigative agency.

A headline said that "terrorist attacks Trumps at Mar A Lago" creating a false impression that terrorism occurred targeting Trump and his family. What actually happened involved was a less nefarious case of red-hued vandalism -- not terrorism.

We rate this claim False.

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Our Sources

The Trump Talks, "BREAKING! Terrorist Attacked Trumps At Mar A Lago – Police On Scene," April 2, 2018

Fox News, "Secret Service investigates red paint splashed on Trump International Golf Club sign in Florida," April 1, 2018

ABC News, "Trump International Golf Club sign splattered with red paint by vandals," April 1, 2018

Palm Beach Post, "Trump International Golf Club vandalized overnight with red paint," April 1, 2018

PolitiFact, "Who plays more golf: Donald Trump or Barack Obama?" Jan. 19, 2018

Interview, Mason F. Brayman, Assistant Special Agent in Charge, United States Secret Service, April 3, 2018

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Misleading headline says terrorist attacked Trumps -- but it was paint on a sign

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