Man Charged With Making Death Threats to Nancy Pelosi in Coronavirus Rant
A Texas man, ranting on social media about the congressional response to the coronavirus outbreak, has been charged with making death threats to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats, federal prosecutors announced Thursday.
Gavin Weslee Blake Perry, 27, of Wichita Falls, Texas, wrote on his personal Facebook page Monday that Pelosi was part of a satanic cult and that she and other Democrats should be killed, authorities said.
The posts were still online as of Thursday night.
Prosecutors said that Perry wrote, “If youre a dem or apart of the establishment in the democrats side I view you as a criminal and a terrorist and I advise everyone to Go SOS and use live rounds.”
The post, which used an abbreviation for “shoot on sight,” included a screenshot of what appeared to be two tweets by Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader. One, by Schumer himself, was critical of President Donald Trump’s handling of the health emergency.
The second was written by someone impersonating Schumer and criticized Trump for barring travelers from entering the United States from China.
“Shoot to kill,” Perry wrote, according to prosecutors. “This is a revolution.”
Perry was charged with transmitting a threatening communication in interstate commerce and faces up to five years in prison.
Perry, who was arrested Wednesday and remains in custody, did not have a lawyer as of Thursday night, according to court records. He made an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Northern Texas on Thursday via videoconference.
His alleged screed came as Congress and the Trump administration were negotiating a $2 trillion stimulus package to reduce the economic havoc caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The Senate approved the package Wednesday and it has advanced to the House.
Prosecutors said that Perry told the law enforcement officers who arrested him that they were violating his First Amendment right to free speech and that their actions were punishable by death.
“The Department of Justice takes the security of our public servants seriously,” Erin Nealy Cox, the U.S. attorney for Northern Texas, said in a statement. “Americans are entitled to voice their opinions — but we will not allow them to threaten our officials’ physical safety.”
The threats against Pelosi were posted beneath an article from an anti-abortion website that Perry shared on Facebook.
“Nancy pelosi is apart of a santanic cult and so are rhe people who work closly with her,” Perry wrote, according to prosecutors. “Dems of the establishment will be removed at any cost necessary and yes that means by death.”
Pelosi’s office declined to comment, and Schumer’s office said it could not immediately comment Thursday night.
This month, a Connecticut man was arrested on charges that he threatened to kill Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who was the lead impeachment manager in the House. Several other Democratic lawmakers have faced similar death threats.
Law enforcement officials said a concerned citizen tipped off local police about Perry’s posts.
“The defendant threatened the life of an elected official and that will not be tolerated,” Matthew J. DeSarno, the FBI special agent in charge in Dallas, said in a statement.
<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="This article originally appeared in The New York Times.” data-reactid=”35″>This article originally appeared in The New York Times.
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