State Watch

Wichita man arrested for threatening to kidnap, kill mayor over mask mandate

A 59-year-old man was arrested on Friday for allegedly threatening to kidnap and kill Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple (D) over the city’s mask mandate.

Meredith Dowty, a retired Wichita firefighter, was booked into Sedgwick County Jail on Friday with the charge of criminal threat.

Wichita Police confirmed in a statement that investigators were alerted to “threatening statements” directed at Whipple, leading to Dowty’s arrest. The investigation is still ongoing.

Whipple told The Wichita Eagle that he has been made aware of text messages sent to another city official asking about the mayor’s address. He said he read the detailed threat against him.

“He said he was going to kidnap me and slash my throat and he needed my address because I needed to see the hangman — me and everyone who, something about tyranny,” Whipple said.

The mayor said “this wasn’t just some guy popping off on social media.”

“He contacted someone that knows where I live that apparently he thought would give him my address,” Whipple told the outlet. 

The suspect reportedly stated in the text messages that he was opposed to “masks and tyranny,” according to Whipple. 

The Democratic mayor in July proposed a city ordinance that required face coverings be worn in public to help stem the spread of COVID-19.

“It sounded like the person was very upset about pretty much mask mandates and he said something about not being able to see his mother because of COVID restrictions on elderly homes,” the mayor told the outlet.

On Twitter, Whipple noted that tensions were perhaps running high, but “violence is never a way to settle disagreements.”

The Eagle reported that the Wichita City Council honored Dowty in 2008 for his role in saving the life of a Wichita police officer who was shot in the line of duty. The suspect is also a well-known local musician who performs on the Wichita bar scene.

News of the arrest comes after several members of a military group were arrested for allegedly plotting to raid the Michigan state Capitol building in Lansing and kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D).

The same group of men allegedly also discussed similar plans targeting Virginia’s governor, Ralph Northam (D).

The governors were targeted due to the men’s dissatisfaction with the leaders’ response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Tags Brandon Whippl city ordinance coronavirus pandemic Face mask Gretchen Whitmer Kansas mask mandate Michigan Northam Virginia Wichita

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