National Security

Michigan man arrested for alleged threats against FBI’s Wray, Rep. Garamendi

Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.) is seen during a House Armed Services Committee hearing to discuss the President's FY 2023 budget for the Department of Defense on Tuesday, April 5, 2022.
Greg Nash
Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.) is seen during a House Armed Services Committee hearing to discuss the President’s FY 2023 budget for the Department of Defense on Tuesday, April 5, 2022.

Authorities have arrested a Michigan man for allegedly making death threats against FBI Director Christopher Wray and Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.).

Court filings show Neil Matthew Walter was charged in federal court for allegedly leaving a threatening voicemail with Garamendi’s office earlier this month and days later posting threatening comments about Wray on an FBI Facebook video.

“John. Hey John. You’re gonna die John. You’re gonna die,” Walter said in the voicemail, which was left on Nov. 3 at 10:53 p.m., according to an affidavit supporting the charge.

The voicemail marks the latest threat in what law enforcement agencies say is a significant rise in threats against lawmakers. The FBI and other agencies have increasingly warned of a rise in violent extremism focused on political leaders and government institutions.

On Election Day, a local detective visited Walter’s residence in Grand Blanc, Mich., for a welfare check, when Walter allegedly answered the door with a firearm and initially refused to drop it.

Court filings indicate Walter went on a rant to the detective about a child slave rape ring, a conspiracy theory he has pushed in a series of recent Facebook posts.

The posts claim Garamendi, other lawmakers, actor Tom Cruise as well as Twitter CEO Elon Musk are involved in the ring, writing that it operates out of locations like the Capitol Building.

Walter’s mother later told prosecutors that her son had previously been involuntarily committed to a mental institution and advised he was refusing mental health treatment, according to court filings.

On Saturday, Walter allegedly left multiple threatening comments on a Facebook video posted by the FBI showing Wray testifying before the Senate Homeland Security Committee on Thursday about national security threats.

“Director Wray is going to die every single day multiple times a day for raping my family over and over and lying to them and myself about it I will kill you i will you I will kill you director Wray you will die I will kill you in self defence,” Walter allegedly wrote in one comment.

Walter will appear again in court next Thursday. Court documents did not list an attorney for Walter.

“I thank Capitol Police and FBI for quickly addressing this threat,” Garamendi said in a statement.

Garamendi is one of multiple lawmakers to report receiving threatening voicemails sent to their offices.

The Capitol Police’s Threat Assessment Team, which handled the voicemail to Garamendi and others, opened 9,625 cases in 2021, a sharp rise from the 8,613 cases in 2020 and lower levels in years past.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), a member of the House Jan. 6 committee,  in July shared roughly a dozen vulgar and threatening calls to his congressional office. Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) said last year he received a voicemail that stated, “I hope you die.”

Late last month, an individual assaulted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) husband, Paul Pelosi, leaving him with a skull fracture. The assailant was allegedly looking for the Speaker when he broke into the couple’s San Francisco home and threatened to break her kneecaps.

Tags Adam Kinzinger Capitol Police Christopher Wray Christopher Wray death threat FBI John Garamendi John Garamendi lawmaker security Michigan Neil Matthew Walter

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