Florida Man Charged in Racist Threats Against Cory Booker and Rashida Tlaib

Federal officers charged a Florida man on Friday with leaving threatening telephone messages laced with racist slurs on the places of work of Senator Cory Booker and two House members, together with Representative Rashida Tlaib.

The man, John J. Kless, 49, made three telephone calls inside 30 minutes, beginning at 7 a.m. on Tuesday, in line with courtroom data. Mr. Kless, of Tamarac, Fla., about 15 miles northwest of Fort Lauderdale, was charged with interstate transmission of threats, in line with courtroom papers.

In the primary name, to the workplace of Representative Eric Swalwell, a California Democrat who’s operating for president, Mr. Kless mentioned that “the day you come after our guns” can be the day “you’ll be dead,” courtroom papers mentioned.

About 9 minutes later, in a voice mail message to the workplace of Ms. Tlaib, Democrat of Michigan, he started with, “Hey, Taliban.” Mr. Kless, referring to Representative Ilhan Omar, the freshman Democrat from Minnesota and one of many first two Muslim girls elected to Congress, then mentioned, “Tell your Taliban friend” to remain silent concerning the Sept. 11, 2001, assaults, courtroom data mentioned.

“Don’t you worry, you government officials will be in the graves” where they belong, he said, according to court records.

Based on the threatening nature of the calls and that Ms. Tlaib was scheduled to speak in Florida on April 20 and 21, law enforcement officials contacted a cellphone company to gain customer information for the phone number where the calls originated, Lacey Evans, a special agent of the United States Capitol Police, said in an affidavit.

Information provided by the company revealed Mr. Kless’s address, details of outgoing calls, location updates and current GPS coordinates.

Mr. Kless was involved in making harassing calls to Ms. Pelosi’s office in Washington in February, according to court papers. It was not immediately clear what actions, if any, were taken by law enforcement in that case.

“This early 2019 case included voice messages by Kless concerning taking away his guns, abortion, illegal immigration and Muslims in Congress,” Agent Evans wrote.

Marlene Fernandez-Karavetsos, special counsel to the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida, said one gun was seized from a backpack of Mr. Kless’s and others from a gun safe at his home. Ammunition was also recovered. Information about the kinds of weapons was not immediately available.

United States Magistrate Judge Barry S. Seltzer ordered Friday that bond be set at $25,000. Mr. Kless has until Monday afternoon to post 10 percent of the bond amount, Ms. Fernandez-Karavetsos said. Until then, the judge ordered him released with a GPS monitor. The judge also imposed a curfew and ordered Mr. Kless not to have contact with the officials.

Source link Nytimes.com

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