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Connecticut man allegedly threatens legislator over ammo bill

By Nina Golgowski, CNN
  • A Connecticut man has been arrested and charged with harassing state Rep. Linda Gentile
  • The suspect allegedly threatened Gentile, evoking January's shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords
  • Suspect John Matika says Gentile took his comments the wrong way and he never mentioned Giffords

New York (CNN) -- A Connecticut man arrested and charged with harassment after allegedly making threatening phone calls to a state representative is free on $1,000 bond, according to a press release from the State Capitol Police Department.

Police say John Matika, 67, made several "alarming comments" during calls to Connecticut State Rep. Linda Gentile's office, while expressing opposition to pending legislation that would limit firearm magazine capacities.

"This individual made a direct threat against me and made specific reference to the attempted murder of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and the tragedy that occurred in Tucson, Arizona," Gentile said in a written statement on Friday. "I am thankful that the threats made against me were not acted upon and nobody was hurt."

Matika told CNN Friday he only called Gentile's office once, never threatened violence and never mentioned the Giffords shooting.

"She took it the wrong way and she reported it to the capitol state police, and now I'm in big trouble, just because she was the one who made the big mistake with what I was talking about," Matika said. "I can tell you when we go to court, you know, it's going to go in my favor. I did not threaten [Gentile] at all."

"I had other people calling me up and they're saying that I brought up the incident in Arizona -- the shooting of the congresswoman," Matika continued. "They said I brought it up and that's what I told them over the phone. The only people who brought it up were the capitol state police that came down. They said, 'Well, you know what happened out in Arizona?' I said, 'Yes.' They said, 'Well, we have to take anything that's even a slight provocation against her.'"

Gentile said, "I have always been respectful of free speech, an individual's rights, and the 2nd Amendment of The Constitution, but this incident crossed the line."

She added that a search of Matika's home in Ansonia, Connecticut, revealed what she called "a large cache of firearms, including automatic weapons and an assault rifle."

"It's concerning for us, for anybody in law enforcement," Lt. Andrew Cota of the Ansonia Police Department told CNN affiliate WTNH. "So [the weapons are] in safe-keeping here. They're locked up... It's really up to a judge as to what happens to those weapons here on out."

Matika said all the fireams the police seized are legally-owned.

He is being charged with one count of second-degree harassment and he is scheduled to appear in court on April 8, police said.

Several politicians across the country have called for stricter gun control legislation since the January 8 attack at a Giffords meet-and-greet at a Tucson supermarket, where six people were killed and 13 more, including Giffords, were wounded.

If passed, Connecticut's Raised State Bill No. 1094 would ban the possession of "certain ammunition feeding devices that accept more than ten rounds," such as the multiple-round magazines used by Giffords' alleged shooter, Jared Lee Loughner.

Loughner has pleaded "not guilty" to 49 counts, including murder and attempted murder.

Connecticut state legislators held a public hearing on the bill on March 23.