A Pennsylvania man is facing federal charges related to the shooting of a local Democratic Party's headquarters, authorities announced on Friday.
Federal agents arrested Francis Nero of Eagleville, Pa., on Wednesday and charged him with sending threatening communications and cyber stalking, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania said in a statement. If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.
Authorities allege that the Montgomery County Democratic Party received a communication on Jan. 7 threatening “random acts of violence” against the party's office in Norristown, Pa.
A few weeks later, on Jan. 20, party officials discovered that the front window of the office was shot through three times, striking a wooden desk inside, officials said.
Investigators inspected two spent rounds found within the office, and determined that they appeared to have been fired from a .45 caliber handgun, authorities added. Investigators also allegedly traced the threatening communication to Nero’s cell phone, and located a record of a sale of a .45 caliber handgun to Nero from 2011.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Nero told the FBI that he sent the email and shot the office because he was mad about shutdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the “abundant evidence available relating to the theft of the election” by President BidenJoe BidenPelosi sets Thursday vote on bipartisan infrastructure bill Pressure grows to cut diplomatic red tape for Afghans left behind President Biden is making the world a more dangerous place MORE.
The newspaper noted that no one was inside the office at the time of the shooting.
Acting U.S. Attorney Jennifer Williams said in a statement that Nero “sent a threatening communication and then acted upon those threats – endangering the lives of anyone who might have been in the vicinity.”
“I want to thank our partners in the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office and all agencies at the federal, state and local levels for their dedicated work investigating this case,” she said.
State charges against Nero were withdrawn before he was taken into custody, NBC News reported. He had faced state charges included terrorism and making terrorist domestic threats.
In a statement to The Hill, Montgomery County Democratic Committee Chairman Joe Foster said "as it is, we are, of course, gratified that the assailant was caught, and we thank all who were involved in his capture."
"We absolutely condemn what he did, but I also want to observe, that whatever prompted Mr. Nero to undertake his unfortunate behavior, we must acknowledge that he is not alone, and that he, along with others, are responding in large part to the endless malicious lies about the presidential election, about Democrats and the Democratic Party." Foster continued. "What is even more disturbing is that those who are willfully spreading these lies do not care that they are undermining the foundation of our democracy and the Republic, unless, of course, that is precisely why they are doing it."
--Updated on March 8 at 9:27 a.m.