New Hampshire man charged with threatening lives of 3 US presidential candidates

By Steve Gorman

(Reuters) – A New Hampshire man has been indicted on charges he sent text messages threatening the lives of three U.S. presidential candidates in recent weeks, suggesting in at least two instances he would target campaign events with mass shootings.

The suspect, Tyler Anderson, 30, was arrested on Dec. 9 after federal agents and police tracked some of the texts to his home address and searched the premises, finding a cellphone with threatening messages sent to the campaigns of two candidates, according to an FBI affidavit.

Neither of the two candidates, nor a third who also was allegedly targeted by threatening texts, are identified by the U.S. Justice Department in a press release issued on Thursday announcing the indictment or in court documents.

The investigation began with a series of texts threatening to kill a candidate, widely reported to be Republican businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, and those who attended a campaign event that had been planned for Dec. 11 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

An FBI affidavit filed with the original criminal complaint said the first batch of threats reported to law enforcement were sent by Anderson on Dec. 8 as replies to automated campaign text messages inviting voters to the Portsmouth event.

In those texts, images of which were included in the affidavit, Anderson allegedly wrote he would “blow” the “brains out” of the candidate and “kill everyone” at the campaign gathering.

A second series of texts allegedly sent by Anderson on Dec. 6 threatened to “blow” the “head off” another candidate and conduct a “mass shooting,” according to the indictment.

A separate set of text messages sent on Nov. 22 threatened to “impale” and “disembowel” yet a third presidential candidate, according to the indictment and the Justice Department press release. No mention was made of a possible motive for the alleged threats.

But U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said the case reflected “an increase in threats of violence against public officials and those seeking public office across the country.”

“These types of illegal threats undermine the function of our democracy,” Garland added.

The two-page indictment charges Anderson, a resident of Dover, New Hampshire, with three counts of transmitting interstate communications threatening to injure another person.

If convicted, Anderson would face up to five years in prison on each count. He made an initial court appearance following his Dec. 9 arrest and was released under conditions requiring him to surrender his passport, restrict his travel to New Hampshire and the neighboring state of Massachusetts and to take all mental health medications as prescribed by his physician.

An arraignment on the indictment returned on Wednesday was set for Jan. 5 before a U.S. magistrate judge.

An attorney appointed to represent Taylor in the Federal Defender’s Office in Concord, New Hampshire, did not immediately respond to a request from Reuters for comment.

(Reporting and writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by David Gregorio)