Man ‘threatens to shoot Congress members’ if Kavanaugh not confirmed

A Florida man has been accused of threatening to shoot members of Congress and their families if Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is not confirmed.

Authorities said James Royal Patrick Jr posted a series of threatening messages on social media last week, one of which said, “Getting ready if Kav is not confirmed . . . whoever I think is to blame may God have mercy on their soul,” according to a statement from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.

Mr Patrick, 53, of Winter Haven seemed to be referring to the Senate’s final vote on Mr Kavanaugh, which is set to take place over the weekend. Proceedings have become highly charged amid allegations that the federal judge sexually assaulted Christine Blasey Ford when both were in high school.

Mr Patrick was arrested this week on a charge of written threats to kill or injure and is being held on a $500,000 (£381,000) bond, according to booking records. It is unclear whether he has an attorney.

“The message is clear: People need to calm down and chill out. The Democratsaren’t the enemy. The Republicans aren’t the enemy. We are Americans – we’re all Americans and this is a great country and has always been a great country,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said at a news conference on Thursday. “For those of you in the community who think it’s all right to keep running that gum, beating that mouth together, understand this: When you threaten people – not just congressmen, not just law enforcement officers – when you threaten to kill, we’re going to lock you up.”

Mr Judd said that in several “horrible” Facebook posts, Mr Patrick threatened to kill Democrats and “weak” Republican members of Congress, as well as any federal or local law enforcement officers who attempted to thwart his plan.

According to an arrest warrant affidavit, which was quoted by the sheriff’s office, Mr Patrick wrote on Facebook that he had purchased “plenty of ammo for my sniper rifle,” including .50-caliber hollow-point bullets and a suppressor, and that he had taken “extra precautions and added more supplies in the tunnel under my house in case local or federal law enforcement tries to stop me.”

Authorities said Mr Patrick wrote, “I expect to be confronted and I will be ready to kill and ready to die.”

Many of the posts appeared to refer to politics – or, more specifically, Mr Kavanaugh’s looming Supreme Court confirmation vote.

“I am about to accept an offer on my house just to get more money to fund my plan to kill Democrat office holders and their families,” Mr Patrick wrote, according to authorities. “It is all I think about night and day. I even wake up in the middle of the night, most nights, thinking about it. Ultimately I will be killed but hopefully I will have killed many many [liberals] elected in Washington.”

Then: “I can tell it seems I will be sacrificing my life for my country. But I am ready and will know who needs to be killed after the vote to put Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court. I believe democrats need to be afraid to do what they are doing right now and weak republicans that do not vote for him need to pay with their lives.”

And then: “I can’t do this by myself! Need more conservatives going into liberals’ homes at night killing them in their sleep!”

Authorities said someone reported the Facebook posts to police on Wednesday. Mr Patrick was arrested hours later, with deputies seizing a handgun, a hunting rifle and ammunition from his house. There was no tunnel underneath the home, the authorities said.

After his arrest, Mr Patrick told investigators he did not intend to harm anyone – he simply wanted to make “crazy statements” to annoy liberals, according to the statement from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office. He further said that because he did not name a target, he “thought he could get away with it.”

Mr Judd, the Polk County sheriff, said on Thursday that Mr Patrick’s remarks are concerning.

“The entire country should be angry that anyone would make such threats against anyone, especially our representatives who are in Washington doing a very difficult job under trying circumstances,” he told reporters. “When Congress is divided like they are, there’s going to be discourse, but any disagreement needs to be civil – it doesn’t need to be vile and obscene and racist and threatening to murder people.”