Man accused of threatening to kill Mississippi Democrat, staffers

Man accused of threatening to kill Mississippi Democrat, staffers
© Stefani Reynolds

A grand jury on Tuesday indicted a Mississippi man on charges of threatening to kill House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie ThompsonBennie Gordon ThompsonProgressive Caucus co-chair: Reported oversight change in intelligence office 'seems a bit...fascist' House lawmakers to launch probe into DHS excluding NY from Trusted Traveler Program Cuomo says Wolf, Cuccinelli violated oath of office and should be investigated MORE (D-Miss.) and members of his staff.

The man, Newton Wade Townsend, “did threaten to murder B.T. [Bennie Thompson] and his staffers, a member of Congress and United States officials, with intent to impede, intimidate and interfere with B.T. and his staffers while they were engaged in the performance of their official duties, and to retaliate against B.T. and his staffers on account of their official duties," the indictment reads, according to the Jackson Clarion-Ledger.

Court records said that Townsend phoned Thompson’s office June 1, using his own name, according to Thompson’s legislative assistant and press secretary Ty James. James told the newspaper the office has caller ID and usually records calls.

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"I am happy the investigation resulted in the arrest of Mr. Townsend. This should serve as a lesson that anyone who chooses to threaten to murder members of Congress will be prosecuted. I would like to express my gratitude and thank all law enforcement officials who investigated this matter," Thompson said in a statement.

Threats to federal officials carry a maximum penalty of up to 10 years in jail and a fine of $250,000. The indictment was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi.

“A violent threat against a public official is a serious federal crime. The United States Attorney’s Office will continue to protect victims, prosecute those fueled by hate who seek to intimidate and terrorize others, and always ensure that justice is done,” U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst said in a statement.