Man charged with threats to politicians, media personalities

·2 min read

NEW YORK — A New York man faces charges alleging that he threatened past and present political figures and media personalities on social media, authorities announced Friday.

Rickey Johnson, 47, awaited an appearance in Manhattan federal court where he was charged in a criminal complaint with making threatening interstate communications and threatening U.S. officials.

He was arrested Thursday night. A message seeking comment was sent to his lawyer.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said in a news release that Johnson was charged with threatening to kill several cable news broadcasters, current and former U.S. senators, and members of the U.S. House “in rage-fueled posts on Instagram and in chilling private messages.”

According to court papers, Johnson on Jan. 30 sent a private message to a cable news broadcaster saying: “you will all be held accountable . . . you will be killed.”

The figures who were targets of the threats were not named in court papers.

A criminal complaint said Johnson in one video posted online attacked supporters of former President Donald Trump, saying they kill police officers.

The criminal complaint said Johnson's messages threatened by name two additional broadcasters, and it added that Johnson posted public messages on Feb. 3 in which he said he intended to kill two of the same broadcasters.

A day later, according to the complaint, Johnson posted public messages threatening, among others, a U.S. senator, a member of Congress, a former House speaker and a governor.

It said Johnson declared that the senator was “dead” and would be “executed,” that Johnson was “going to kill” the member of Congress, and that the governor “will be executed” and “will be killed.”

Another public post, the complaint said, was directed principally at the former House speaker, saying: “I am going to kill you. I’m gonna kill all of you.”

“Among the many great freedoms Americans enjoy is the right to engage in political discourse, and disagreements are natural and healthy; but when invective metastasizes into threats of harm or even death, law enforcement will act swiftly to bring the person responsible to justice,” Strauss said.

Dermot Shea, commissioner of the New York Police Department, said Johnson “took aim at the foundations of our shared democracy and way of life, threatening not only elected United States officials but several working journalists.”

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Associated Press writer Michael R. Sisak contributed to this report.

Larry Neumeister, The Associated Press