A Michigan man allegedly threatened on social media to kill Jewish members of the Michigan government, the FBI said, and state Attorney General Dana Nessel says she was among those targeted.
The incident adds to recent concerns about threats against public officials as well as reports of increasing antisemitic incidents across the country. It also evokes the plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer as well as the at-times threatening demonstrations against Covid-19 protocols.
On February 18, the FBI National Threat Operations Center told the Detroit FBI office that a person on Twitter by the handle of “tempered_reason” said he was heading to Michigan and “threatening to carry out the punishment of death to anyone that is Jewish in the Michigan govt.” Any attempt to “subdue” him would “be met with deadly force in self-defense,” the user said.
Authorities traced the Twitter handle to a man named Jack Eugene Carpenter III, who had a protection order against him and had previously been arrested by state police, according to the complaint filed in US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.
Carpenter also had three 9mm handguns registered in Michigan’s Law Enforcement Information Network (LEIN), the complaint said. One of the guns in his possession Carpenter had “stolen” from his girlfriends, according the complaint.
Authorities said Carpenter violated an interstate communication law, according to the complaint.
Although court documents did not reference Nessel or other officials by name, the attorney general said in a tweet Thursday that she was among the targets.
“The FBI has confirmed I was a target of the heavily armed defendant in this matter. It is my sincere hope that the federal authorities take this offense just as seriously as my Hate Crimes & Domestic Terrorism Unit takes plots to murder elected officials,” she tweeted.
Her tweet embedded an article from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency citing the case.
Carpenter is being represented by a public defender. CNN has reached out to his attorney as well as local and national FBI offices for comment. Nessel’s office declined to immediately comment further on the matter.
“When the defendant was arrested, in his vehicle they found approximately a half dozen firearms and ammunition,” federal prosecutor Hank Moon said in court Wednesday. “One of the threats he made was to shoot somebody.”
Moon added that the government is concerned Carpenter might flee because he “does not believe he is subject to the jurisdiction of this court.” Prosecutors will argue for Carpenter’s continued detention at a court hearing on Friday.
The threat is the latest of several high-profile threats and violence against Jews in America. According to the Anti-Defamation League, antisemitic attacks reached a record high in the US in 2021 – up 34% from 2020.
Last month, a man was charged by federal prosecutors with hate crimes after he allegedly shot two different Jewish men in Los Angeles. In January, police said a man threw a Molotov cocktail at a New Jersey synagogue in an arson attempt, and in December, a 63-year-old man was assaulted in New York’s Central Park in what police called an antisemitic attack.
This story has been updated with additional developments.