Updated 3:25 p.m. | An Indiana man has been arrested by the FBI for allegedly threatening to kill Speaker John A. Boehner over his refusal to pass an unemployment extension, according to court filings.
Brandon J. Thompson, 32, of New Castle, Ind., faces federal charges for allegedly making email and telephone threats to an elected official, according to a news release. FBI agents arrested Thompson at his home Thursday night, where he admitted to the charges, according to a criminal complaint. He faced a U.S. magistrate judge on Friday morning.
He is accused of obtaining Boehner's wife's personal cellphone number and leaving voice mail messages in early May to relay several threats against the speaker, stating among other things that he would "get his hands on him," and "rip his fucking head off," because he "shoulda extended unemployment insurance."
On May 1, Boehner's wife Debbie reported to Capitol Police that she received a threatening voice mail attacking the Ohio congressman for not passing an unemployment extension.
"I'm coming after your oompa loompa fucking husband. He should ... he shoulda extended unemployment insurance. Now it's too late. Imma rip his fucking head off," said the voice on the message.
Five days later, Boehner's wife again notified the Capitol Police of an eerily similar message: "You tell you husband to redo the unemployment extension because I'm going to come for him. I'm going to rip his fucking head off. He's not untouchable. I will get my hands on him."
FBI agents tracked the number to Thompson. In the course of the investigation, agents also found that Thompson is the neighbor of another man who was investigated because his IP address matched that of a threatening email sent to Boehner though his office's website.
Here's the all-caps message sent through the contact form on Boehner's website: "WELL YOU DRUNK JOHN BIN LADEN IT’S TIME TO TAKE YOU OUT MOTHERFUCKER YOU WANT TO PLAY WITH 2.7 MILLION PEOPLES LIVES I AM GOING TO TAKE YOURS YOU WILL NEVER SEE IT COMING WITH MY SNIPER RIFLE WERE YOU SOON :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-). "
Investigators believe Thompson logged on to his neighbor's unencrypted wireless router to make the threat, according to the criminal complaint.
The owner of the wireless router told investigators that Thompson had pulled a gun on a debt collector approximately four years ago.
Thompson had received unemployment checks of $341 per week until Jan. 11. The last emergency unemployment benefits extension expired in December, and an effort to revive the benefits has been heated on Capitol Hill ever since.
Boehner has so far refused to allow a vote on an unemployment extension. His office declined to comment on the arrest.
Phone records show 19 calls made from a phone owned by Thompson to Boehner’s wife’s cellphone between April 8 and May 6, according to the complaint. Thompson has had five protective orders against him, filed in 2001, 2002, 2005, 2008 and 2014.
"Free speech is the cornerstone of our democracy but threats of violence have no place in our civil society," said Joseph H. Hogsett, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana, in a statement. "People who are inclined to make them need to know that they violate the law and they will be aggressively pursued."
Threats to members of Congress are a common occurrence , especially during times of heated political debate. Yet many go unsolved because they are often difficult to investigate.
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