A Goochland County supervisor apologized Wednesday for making what he called a “bad joke” when he sent a tweet this week suggesting he could “reload” on dozens of Washington, D.C., demonstrators.
Manuel Alvarez Jr., the county board’s vice chairman who represents Goochland’s District 2, said he made a mistake by hurriedly posting a tweet in response to another Twitter user’s comment that said a Maryland congressman was assaulted by protesters at his D.C. office this week.
“With one reload I can take 34 of them, but my guess is that one will be sufficient,” Alvarez wrote on Twitter.
That tweet, which was posted on Tuesday, has since been taken down, but other Twitter users upset by the comment have continued to tweet out screen grabs of the now-deleted post. Critics insisted that the county supervisor’s tweet was apparently threatening violence.
But Alvarez, the county board’s former chairman, insisted in a telephone interview that his comment was not a threat and that it had been misconstrued, adding that “the people who know me, know better.”
“I didn’t mean it to be a threat to anybody, and it was a stupid joke, and I regret it,” Alvarez said.
Alvarez said he had reached out to county officials to explain the tweet as controversy over the comment continued on Twitter.
“It’s a mess because we’re a good county. I have great constituents,” said Alvarez, 64. “I get along with everybody, and I represent everyone, but it was my mistake, and that’s the way it is.”
The county supervisor, a Republican whose Twitter account describes him as a “proud conservative Cuban-American,” said he does not know how his tweet ultimately got deleted, adding that some users reported it to Twitter.
Goochland Sheriff James Agnew said Wednesday that he hadn’t read the tweet and was not aware of complaints being made to his department about it. Agnew said Alvarez had called him Wednesday to give the sheriff a heads-up about the controversy.
A screen grab showed the county board member posted the now-deleted tweet in response to a tweet that said Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md., had been assaulted by demonstrators pushing their way into his congressional office.
Harris’ congressional office said he suffered a bruised wrist as protesters demonstrating in favor of using marijuana to fight opioid addiction tried to push through a door of his office, according to The Associated Press. The U.S. Capitol Police told the AP two people were arrested during the protest and charged with possession and consumption of marijuana in a public space.
“I responded jokingly to what sounded like a bad situation,” Alvarez explained to critics in a follow-up tweet. “Such a situation would never happen in my community. I have my community’s back and they have mine. I am approachable and responsive to their needs. It was a bad off-the-cuff response and that’s it.”