A man was arrested in Florida this week for allegedly threatening to kill Trump supporters as well as seven major Republican lawmakers.
Richard Szala is a 61 year-old registered Democrat from Clearwater who was arrested after allegedly threatening to kill the following seven Republican politicians: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.), Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.), Sen. Rick Scott (Fla.), and Rep. Matt Gaetz.
It should be noted that each of these politicians are allies of President Donald Trump. Szala’s neighbor John Clayton said that he had threatened to kill Trump voters as well.
“We were going to plant signs and what have you, but I thought, you know what, in this environment, maybe not a good idea … and now, oh my God,” Clayton, who happens to be a Trump supporter, told WFLA-TV. “No clue. Cause you have no idea who your neighbors are.”
Clearwater police said that the threats against the Republican politicians were made on Facebook, while the threats to supporters of Trump came in on YouTube.
A Clearwater man has been arrested after being accused of making online threats to kill President Trump supporters, prominent Republican politicians and his neighbor, according to police. https://t.co/iDNfVFvnG0 pic.twitter.com/ZRMrjQBIjT
— Spectrum Bay News 9 (@BN9) November 5, 2020
Szala was apprehended after someone reported him to the Florida Fusion Center, which says it “protects citizens, visitors, resources, and critical infrastructure of Florida by enhancing information sharing, intelligence, capabilities, and preparedness operations for all local, state, and federal agencies in accordance with Florida’s Domestic Security Strategy.”
“We got a credible tip from an information intelligence gather source about him posting threatening comments on YouTube,” Clearwater Lt. Michael Walek said to WTVT. “His comments were directed to the Republican party, specific people in the Republican party. … He was threatening to shoot them.”
When questioned by police, Szala claimed that his threats were empty and that he never actually planned to harm anyone physically.
“He admitted to making the statements out of anger and just shouldn’t have said it, didn’t mean it, but he still said it,” Walek continued. “Anytime somebody threatens to shoot somebody and kill somebody because he’s upset with them, it’s inappropriate and not going to be tolerated.
“We take all written threats seriously. It doesn’t matter if it’s a political rant, a school, a neighbor, a friend…anytime you threaten somebody, we can establish probable cause you’re going to jail,” he added. “We don’t know if you’re joking. We don’t know what your actions are going to be.”
Police arrested Szala on Wednesday after seizing his gun, computer, and phone. He has since been charged with making a false report concerning the use of a firearm in a violent manner.