Texas man charged with threatening prominent vaccine advocate

A Texas man is facing federal indictment after he threatened a doctor who was advocating for vaccinations, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Maryland announced in a statement Tuesday.

Scott Eli Harris, 51, of Aubrey, Texas, has been charged for threats he made to the Maryland doctor across state lines. The indictment was made on September 29 of this year and has been publicly unsealed as of Tuesday.

Harris allegedly sent a threat to the Maryland doctor via cellphone on July 12 because of the doctor's advocacy for the COVID-19 vaccine.

"Never going to take your wonder drug. My 12 gauge promises I won't .... I can't wait for the shooting to start," Harris allegedly said in the message, according to the U.S. attorney office's press release. 

“We take seriously threats and intimidation, and this charge makes clear that such conduct will be prosecuted federally,” said U.S. Attorney Erek L. Barron. “We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to investigate and prosecute those making such threats.”

If Harris is convicted, he will face a maximum five-year sentence in federal prison.

Harris is expected to make his initial appearance at U.S. District Court in Plano, Texas, on Wednesday at 10 a.m. CT, according to the Department of Justice. 

Harris's initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Baltimore is to be scheduled at a later date. 

Vaccine advocates have been recently facing violence and harassment. 

California police cited an anti-vaccine supporter for assault of a pro-vaccine legislator in August; U.S. News reported a series of incidents over the summer of vaccine proponents facing violence and harassment; the Los Angeles Times reported that a person was stabbed and a reporter was assaulted as anti-vaccine demonstrators clashed with vaccine proponents; and just a few weeks ago, anti-vaccine protesters tore down a COVID-19 testing center in New York.