Authorities arrested a Virginia man who police say threatened the life on Twitter of U.S. Republican Congressman Bob Goodlatte, R-Roanoke County.
A federal judge ordered that 38-year-old Christopher Michael McGowan is held on a charge of transmitting a threat. McGowan owns a house in the Cloverdale section of Botetourt County but has a Roanoke County mailing address. The Roanoke Times reported.
The alleged behavior involved only online communications against Goodlatte, said Brian McGinn, spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office.
The author of the angry tweets communicated threats to kill Republican Congressman, according to court papers.
According to the case filed by an FBI agent, a Goodlatte staff member spotted a “large number” of angry tweets directed at Goodlatte, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, from two accounts throughout 2017. In mid December, a message from one of the accounts said, “Dear, any law enforcement agency. I am a veteran Army officer and am fully qualified and capable of killing. Should Trump fire Mueller illegally and @BobGoodlatte6 fail to impeach him I will consider Bob an enemy combatant and arrest him. If he resists I will kill him.”
Goodlatte’s office called the police. Botetourt County sheriff’s officers visited McGowan at home. “McGowan stated that he had become intoxicated and sent the tweets hoping to get someone’s attention over his concerns about the current status of our country.” He also said he didn’t own firearms or intend to hurt anyone, according to court papers.
The account sent more messages the next day, on February 4 and Sunday morning, court papers said.
Sunday’s round of tweets included a line about “pulling a trigger to your head” and the line, “whom would like to bet I can purchase a gun three days from now and NOT be locked up in jail?”
McGowan allegedly emailed Roanoke police on Sunday morning to report sending “some pretty aggressive tweets stating some things that I should not have.” The email said the author had been drinking and did not intend to “cause him harm.”
More tweets followed Wednesday. Twitter on Thursday furnished law enforcement identifying information about the accounts used. Police arrested McGowan Friday morning.
Authorities checked a police firearms sales database limited to those transactions that followed a background check and did not see any handgun purchases by McGowan during the past year, court papers said.