A Roanoke man has been charged with using social media to threaten Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-6th, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia said Christopher Michael McGowan, 38, was arrested Friday and charged in a criminal complaint with one count of making a threatening communication through interstate commerce.
“Federal law criminalizes threatening communications made through the internet or a telephone, and these types of threats are not protected by the First Amendment,” U.S. Attorney Thomas T. Cullen said in a news release. “As this case indicates, our office will act swiftly to address threats of gun violence.”
According to the criminal complaint and affidavit, McGowan allegedly tweeted a series of messages on Dec. 17 threatening Goodlatte.
The next day, officers with the Botetourt County Sheriff’s Office interviewed McGowan at his home. During the interview, he admitted sending the tweets but said he did not own firearms and did not intend to hurt Goodlatte or anyone else, according to authorities.
However, in a series of tweets on April 1, McGowan wrote:
“I’m serious @BobGoodlatte6 ..you keep [expletive] with our constitution and challenging Mueller and the last you see will be my patriot ass behind a gun you should have long ago have prevented me owning pulling a trigger to your head. Want me arrested>? GO head.”
“#1: threatened my congressman with violence #2: stated I would kill people. #3: pretty much declared I would commit a plethora of anti-social behavior, publicly. Whom would like to bet I can purchase a gun three days from now and NOT be locked up in jail? #proudtobeanAmerican”
“@BobGoodlatte6 @HouseJudiciary Corruption happens on so many levels and in so many ways..but YOU have truly taken it to an extreme. History will hate you even more than I do. You better get on those gun laws. I am buying one intended for you in 3 days. Can you legally stop me?”
After an initial court appearance, McGowan was remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals, pending a Wednesday bond hearing.