An Illinois man was arrested last month for threatening to “shoot” and “blow up” Turning Point USA’s High School Leadership Summit at George Washington University, ABC7 reports.
28-year-old Alexander Micah Cohen tweeted a photo of a man with a baseball bat wrapped in what appears to be barbed wire, writing, “On my way to #HSLS2018 to greet the nice conservative teenagers.” Another tweet reportedly said: “I’m riding through D.C. [to] go and shoot GWU up … We gon’ come and blow GWU up.”
A parent of an attendee reportedly saw the tweet and notified the FBI, launching an investigation by the Metropolitan Police Department. The police reportedly also worked with Twitter to identify Cohen due to the threatening language of the tweet.
Cohen reportedly claims his comments were “a joke.” He was charged with attempting to make a false report connected to a weapon of mass destruction. He pleaded not guilty on Friday at the D.C. Superior Court and was released on his own recognizance.
Cohen reportedly told a police officer that she “should focus on others who post photos of guns,” according to ABC7, which added, “When ask[ed] the meaning of his posting on July 26, 2018, [Cohen] declined to comment any further.”
“It is sick and disturbing that leftist radicals hate high school conservatives so much they have to resort to threats of death and terrorism,” TPUSA head Charlie Kirk told The Daily Wire. “Threats against students must be taken seriously and met with consequences.”
According to a TPUSA press release, 800 students attended the 4-day-long conference; speakers included Ambassador Nikki Haley, KellyAnne Conway, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Mark Cuban, and many more.
In June 2017, Cohen reportedly also impersonated a Vox editor on Twitter and posted an infographic that stated “Killing 3 GOP senators prevents ten 9/11s” following the attack where a gunman opened fire at Republican lawmakers practicing for the Congressional baseball game, injuring House Majority Whip Steve Scalise. Following this, in an interview with Slate, he described himself as “independent left-leaning” and said his actions “were strictly for entertainment.”
“I think the danger of violence being incited from jokes on the internet is relatively low compared to the danger of violence being incited from people learning how they will be affected by policy,” he told Slate. “If conservatives are actually arguing that, it feels wildly hypocritical given their defense of the current rise in hateful rhetoric and incitement of violence against people for their identity (race, religion, gender) as falling under the purview of free speech.”
Cohen’s Twitter page has since been suspended, and he has been ordered to stay away from George Washington University. His next hearing is reportedly scheduled for next month.