22 individuals charged with death threats against lawmakers, election workers, and government officials
Threats to elected officials
John Jacobs Ahrens, 59, of Oklahoma, was sentenced to over two years in prison for sending emails threatening the lives of President Biden and numerous members of Congress.
On May 10, 2021, Ahrens sent a message stating, “Please go to my Facebook page and read what I sent to the men of the United States Congress. They have less than 48 hours to hand over my money or their children will start dying all over the country. I’m going to kill their children using the same law as the Government used to force our families on to the Trail of Tears.”…
In his June 10 email, Ahrens stated, “America is going to get to see a sitting President get his head blown off right in front of them… A kill contract went out on one Joseph Biden, President of the United States of America. I’m the one that put it there and if he doesn’t submit to the law, America is going to watch him die right in front of them.”
William Oliver Towery, 55, of Texas, was convicted in March of making threats against then-candidate Joe Biden in 2019. Towery, a former Judson ISD police officer, responded to a text message regarding a Biden campaign rally, saying: “I’ll be there and have been practicing my sniping skills all month just for this occasion. If you will be nell [sic] near him you may want to wear something dark to hide the blood splatter.”
Scott Ryan Merryman, 37, of Kansas, was charged with making threats against President Joe Biden in January 2022. According to the complaint, Merryman left his home in Kansas, traveling to Maryland, while making a series of phone calls to law enforcement officers that he was on his way to D.C. to see the Preisdent and “cut the head off the snake in the heart of the nation.”
After making “numerous comments about God, being guided by God, cloaked in the ‘blood of the lamb,’ and armored by God,” Merryman was taken into custody by police, who found a loaded magazine for a .45 on him and a spotting scope in his backpack, which Merryman said was for “recon,” warning he was “coming for his bitch ass sleepy Joe,” prosecutors claim.
Jason Robert Burham Karimi, 32, of Minnesota, was sentenced to a year and a day in prison for leaving a threatening voicemail for a U.S. Representative of California. The message referenced vandalism that occurred at the lawmaker’s house, leading some to believe the target was Nancy Pelosi.
James Meininger, Jr., 37, of Pennsylvania, was indicted over the summer for threatening to kidnap and injure Speaker Nancy Pelosi, as well as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley.
Joshua Hall, 22, of Pennsylvania, pled guilty to one count of making interstate communications with a threat to injure on Friday. Hall made a series of calls in August 2022 to the California office of Rep. Eric Swalwell threatening to shoot the congressman.
On a telephone call with Staff Member-1 and Staff Member-2, HALL stated, in substance and in part, that he had a lot of AR-15s; that he wanted to shoot the Congressman; that he intended to come to the Congressman’s office with firearms; and that if he saw the Congressman, he would kill him. He further stated, in substance and in part, that he wanted to “beat the shit out of” the Congressman and that he would find the Congressman wherever he was and hurt him.
Steve Cochran, 43, of Virginia, was sentenced to 41 months in prison for making over 60 threats to elected officials, saying he would murder, kidnap, torture, and rape the officials and their loved ones. The officials included unnamed senators, a governor, and a former U.S. president.
In his threatening email, which had a subject line that read, “[You’re] dead, you radical Muslim,” Hannon referred to Congresswoman Omar and the other Congresswomen of color as “radical rats,” and asked Congresswoman Omar if she was prepared “to die for Islam.” The email further stated that Hannon was going to shoot the Congresswomen in the head.
Brendon Michael Daugherty, 35, of Minnesota, was arrested in September for leaving two threatening voicemail messages for an unnamed senator.
In his first message, Daugherty stated, “You and the Republican Party should be proud that you’re pushing me to become a domestic terrorist. Have a nice [expletive] day; can’t wait to kill ya.” In his second message, Daugherty stated, “I also just wanted to note, thank god the Republican Party is against gun control laws because it would keep guns out of the hands of a person that was disabled and volatile like I am, but you guys are totally against that. So I may actually get to carry out my nefarious goals.”
Jay Allen Johnson, 65, of Alaska, was sentenced to nearly 3 years in prison for leaving over a dozen threatening voicemails to Senator Lisa Murkowski and Senator Dan Sullivan in 2021.
On September 2, 2021, Johnson left a voicemail at the Washington D.C. office of Senator Lisa Murkowski containing several threats, including a threat to “burn” the Senator’s properties. Johnson then asked if the Senator knew what a .50 caliber shell “does to a human head.”
Robert Lemke, 36, of California, was sentenced to three years in prison for making dozens of threats to members of Congress and journalists over their support of Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential victory.
From November 2020 through early January 2021, LEMKE sent threatening electronic and audio messages to approximately 50 victims, including journalists and politicians, targeting those individuals because of their statements expressing that then-President Trump had lost the 2020 presidential election….As the attack on the Capitol Building was ongoing, LEMKE sent threatening text messages to a New York City-based family member of a journalist (the “Journalist”), stating: “[The Journalist’s] words are putting you and your family at risk. We are nearby, armed and ready. Thousands of us are active/retired law enforcement, military, etc. That’s how we do it.”
Threats to election workers
Mark Rissi, 64, of Iowa, was arrested earlier this month, charged with leaving voicemails threatening an election official on the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, in Arizona, and an official with the Arizona Attorney General’s office.
According to the indictment, on or about Sept. 27, 2021, Rissi allegedly left the following voicemail for the election official with the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors: “Hello Mr. [VICTIM], I am glad that you are standing up for democracy and want to place your hand on the Bible and say that the election was honest and fair. I really appreciate that. When we come to lynch your stupid lying Commie [expletive], you’ll remember that you lied on the [expletive] Bible, you piece of [expletive]. You’re gonna die, you piece of [expletive]. We’re going to hang you. We’re going to hang you.”
Additionally, on or about Dec. 8, 2021, Rissi allegedly said the following in a voicemail message he left for an official with the Office of the Arizona Attorney General: “I’m a victim of a crime. My family is a victim of a crime. My extended family is a victim of a crime. That crime was the theft of the 2020 election. The election that was fraudulent across the state of Arizona, that [VICTIM] knows was fraudulent, that [VICTIM] has images of the conspirators deleting election fraud data from the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors computer system. Do your job, [VICTIM], or you will hang with those [expletive] in the end. We will see to it. Torches and pitchforks. That’s your future, [expletive]. Do your job.”
Travis Ford, 42, of Nebraska, was sentenced to 18 months in prison last month for sending multiple threatening online messages to Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold.
According to court documents, Travis Ford, 42, of Lincoln, issued threats to an election official, including: “Do you feel safe? You shouldn’t. Do you think Soros will/can protect you?” and “Your security detail is far too thin and incompetent to protect you. This world is unpredictable these days….anything can happen to anyone.” Ford also posted similar messages on Instagram pages associated with the President of the United States and with another public figure.
Walter Lee Hoornstra, 50, of Missouri, was indicted in August 2022 for leaving a threatening voicemail on the personal cell phone of an election worker in Maricopa County, Arizona. Hoornstra, an employee of Missouri public schools, appeared to be upset that the worker allegedly made statements questioning the validity of the Cyber Ninja audit in Arizona.
According to the indictment, on or about May 19, 2021, Hoornstra allegedly left the following voicemail message on the personal cell phone of the election official: “So I see you’re for fair and competent elections, that’s what it says here on your homepage for your recorder position you’re trying to fly here. But you call things unhinged and insane lies when there’s a forensic audit going on. You need to check yourself. You need to do your [expletive] job right because other people from other states are watching your ass. You [expletive] renege on this deal or give them any more troubles, your ass will never make it to your next little board meeting.”
Chad Stark, 54, of Texas, was arrested earlier this year for making online threats against Georgia election officials the day before the January 6 insurrection. “Georgia Patriots it’s time for us to take back our state from these Lawless treasonous traitors. It’s time to invoke our Second Amendment right it’s time to put a bullet in the treasonous Chinese [Official A]. Then we work our way down to [Official B] the local and federal corrupt judges,” Stark wrote, according to the indictment.
James Clark, 38, of Massachusetts, was arrested earlier this year for making a bomb threat to Arizona election officials.
According to the indictment, on or about Feb. 14, 2021, Clark allegedly sent the following message via the website contact form of the Elections Division, Arizona Secretary of State’s Office, addressed to the election official: “Your attorney general needs to resign by Tuesday February 16th by 9 am or the explosive device impacted in her personal space will be detonated.”
Gjergj Juncaj, 50, of Nevada, was arrested earlier this year for making threatening phone calls to a Nevada election worker the day after the January 6 insurrection. “I want to thank you for such a great job you all did on stealing the election,” Junca wrote. “I hope you all go to jail for treason. I hope your children get molested. You are all going to (expletive) die.”
Threats to federal officials
Everett Wayne Copelin, 40, of Texas, was arrested in September for posting numerous threats on Gab under the username “Alpha Top Dog Pure Blood.” Copelin posted online a call for “all strong abled white alpha men with sniper rifles” to enforce the law, “because the government is corrupt.”
A review of his Gab account revealed a history of posts threatening various targets, including police officers, government officials, Black people, immigrants, Jews, and others:
- On Aug. 21, he allegedly threatened to kill young black men in relationships with white women.
- On Aug. 22, he allegedly threatened to “blow up” IRS agents.
- On Sept. 5, he allegedly threatened to shoot police officers.
- On Sept. 8, he allegedly claimed he would “go down to the border … and start shooting invaders,” and allegedly added that he would “blow the FEDS away too.”
- Later the same day, he allegedly threatened to kill Jews in the government and law enforcement.
- On Sept. 14, he allegedly threatened to shoot Mexicans, who he felt “shouldn’t even be here.”
- On Sept. 25, he allegedly threatened to hang supporters of a Texas gubernatorial candidate.
Thomas Connally, Jr., 57, of West Virginia, was sentenced to three years in prison for sending emails threatening harm to Dr. Anthony Fauci and other public health officials. One of the emails threatened that Dr. Fauci and his family would be “dragged into the street, beaten to death, and set on fire.”
Jerald Reutzel, 48, of Idaho, was sentenced to three years of probation in September for threatening an FBI agent.
Benjamin Stasko, 34, of Georgia, was sentenced to time served (21 months) and three years supervised release for threatening to bomb IRS offices.
Ryan Matthew Conlon, 38, of Maryland pled guilty in May of making threatening calls to the National Security Agency.