On Friday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Western District of Virginia announced the arrest of a Roanoke man accused of threatening to murder Republican Congressman Bob Goodlatte (VA) over social media.
The USAO charged 38-year-old Christopher Michael McGowan with "one count of making a threatening communication through interstate commerce," according to a statement from the Department of Justice.
“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 Cullen said in the statement. “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 threatening messages toward Goodlatte in mid-December. Officers with the Botetourt County Sheriff’s Office visited McGowan at his home where he admitted to sending the tweets but said that he didn't own any firearms and had no intent on hurting anyone.
McGowan tweeted: “I will do this in full belief I am defending the constitution of the United States. I am not making a joke. I will kill him. Should you believe my doing so would be illegal please arrest me so we can have this discussion in court BEFORE I actually do it. Thank you.”
However, McGowan allegedly continued to make threatening statements as recently as this week to Goodlatte as law enforcement officials decided to arrest him this morning.
According to the DOJ release, McGowan tweeted: “I’m serious, @BobGoodlatte6 …you keep f**king 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 (SIC). Want me arrested>? GO head.”
McGowan also tweeted: “#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”