A right-wing provocateur who called for "vigilante squads to start gunning journalists" is denying he inspired a mass shooting at a newspaper office in the US.
Five were killed and dozens injured when a gunman opened fire at the Capital Gazette in Maryland on Friday morning (NZ time). One of the surviving journalists, Phil Davis, said there was "nothing more terrifying than hearing multiple people get shot while you're under your desk and then hear the gunman reload".
The shooting comes just two days after Milo Yiannopoulos, formerly of far-right fake news site Breitbart, sent threatening text messages to reporters from the Observer and the Daily Beast.
"I can't wait for the vigilante squads to start gunning journalists down on sight," Mr Yiannopoulos wrote.
Asked what prompted the comments, Mr Yiannopoulos told the Observer it was his "standard response to a request for comment".
Within two hours of the shooting, Mr Yiannopoulos posted a lengthy defence of his actions on his Facebook page, blaming the journalists who reported his inflammatory response for the deaths in Maryland.
"I sent a troll about 'vigilante death squads' as a *private* response to a few hostile journalists who were asking me for comment, basically as a way of saying, 'F**k off.' They then published it," he wrote.
"The responsibility for that lies squarely and wholly with the Beast and the Observer for drumming up fake hysteria about a private joke," he added, before predicting the gunman would soon be outed as a "demented left-winger".
"Let's hope it's another transgender shooter, too, so the casualties are minimal."
He said he has no regrets about sending the texts.
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Mr Yiannopoulos has a history of making outrageous comments. He resigned from his job at Brietbart after arguing in favour of paedophilia (which he also dismissed as a joke), and recently sent $14.88 to a Jewish journalist who'd recently lost her job - 14 and 88 being numbers associated with the neo-Nazi movement.
His visit to Australia last year caused riots between far-right supporters and protesters. While there, he called indigenous Australians the "losers of history" and called for Muslims to be deported.
He's a supporter of US President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly called the media "enemies of the people". Mr Trump issued a perfunctory statement following the Maryland shooting, offering the usual "thoughts and prayers".