A30-year-old man has been arrested and charged in connection with death threats aimed at Indian-American Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy and his campaign event attendees, the US attorney’s office in New Hampshire has said.
The attorney’s office on Monday said Tyler Anderson of Dover in New Hampshire was arrested on Saturday and charged with transmitting in interstate commerce a threat to injure Ramaswamy, a 38-year-old biotech entrepreneur.
According to an FBI affidavit, the Ramaswamy campaign sent a text message on Friday to notify voters, including Anderson, about an upcoming campaign event in Portsmouth.
Anderson allegedly responded to the message: “Great, another opportunity for me to blow his brains out!” He also said: “I’m going to kill everyone who attends” and added a vulgar description of what he would do to the bodies.
While the statement from the US attorney’s office did not name which presidential campaign was targeted, Ramaswamy’s team confirmed on Monday that he was the target, The Washington Post reported.
Tricia McLaughlin, a spokesperson for the Ramaswamy campaign, said on Monday: ”Unfortunately it is true.” ”We are grateful to law enforcement for their swiftness and professionalism in handling this matter and pray for the safety of all Americans,” she added.
A statement from his staff then criticised the news media, “deranged voices” and “left-wing cranks”, accusing the groups of inciting violence against the Republicans ahead of the 2024 presidential elections.
“I’m grateful to the people on the front lines who work hard every day to make sure people like me and other Americans keep safe,” Ramaswamy told reporters in New Hampshire.
“I think that we are very well protected,” he added.
He declined to say when he found out about the alleged death threat or whether he would increase his security.
Ramaswamy’s staff reported the threatening text messages to authorities, the FBI affidavit said.
Law enforcement officials searched Anderson’s residence on Saturday, arrested him, and seized his phone and firearms.
While searching Anderson’s phone, the affidavit says, authorities discovered the texts to Ramaswamy in a deleted folder and found additional threatening messages to another candidate.
According to the affidavit, one message sent on Wednesday said: “Fantastic, now I know where to go so I can blow that b——‘s head off.” Subsequent texts were referring to “a mass shooting” and intentions to defile a corpse.
Anderson admitted to sending the text messages to Ramaswamy and confirmed that he sent threatening texts to other campaigns, according to the affidavit.
A businessman and a Republican presidential candidate, Ramaswamy went on to hold the event in Portsmouth on Monday.
If convicted, Anderson could face five years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a USD 250,000 fine.
Threats of violence against politicians are up, Forbes cited a recent University of Massachusetts-Amherst survey of nearly 300 former members of Congress as suggesting.
The survey found 47 per cent reported receiving threats while in Congress, with those who were first elected more recently experiencing a higher number of threats than those first elected earlier.
The numbers were split fairly evenly across party lines, but women and people of colour reported receiving threats at a much higher rate of 69 per cent, Forbes reported.