A Michigan man who allegedly threatened on social media to kill state Attorney General Dana Nessel and other Jewish members of Michigan’s government pleaded not guilty to making threatening interstate communications during his arraignment Wednesday.
Jack Eugene Carpenter III was indicted last week by a federal grand jury, which also made a special finding of a hate crime motivation.
The jury alleged that Carpenter “intentionally selected Jewish members of the Michigan government as the objects of his threat in Count one because of the actual and perceived religion of those individuals,” the indictment says.
Making interstate threats to injure another person carries a sentence of up to five years in prison. According to a Department of Justice news release, Carpenter is subject to a hate crime motivation penalty enhancement if convicted.
“Hate and bias-related crimes poison our communities and make people afraid simply because of who they are or what they believe,” US Attorney Dawn Ison said in the news release. “We will not tolerate such actions, and we will prosecute those who engage in them to the fullest extent of the law.”
Carpenter appeared in person before a judge in the Eastern District of Michigan and remains in custody. CNN reached out to an attorney for Carpenter for comment.
CNN previously reported that on February 18, the FBI National Threat Operations Center told the Detroit FBI office that a person on Twitter by the handle of “tempered_reason” said he was heading to Michigan and “threatening to carry out the punishment of death to anyone that is Jewish in the Michigan govt.” Any attempt to “subdue” him would “be met with deadly force in self-defense,” the user said.
Authorities traced the Twitter handle to Carpenter, who had a protection order against him and had previously been arrested by state police, according to a complaint filed in US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.
Carpenter had three 9mm handguns registered in Michigan’s Law Enforcement Information Network, the complaint said. Carpenter had “stolen” one of the guns in his possession from his girlfriend, according to the complaint.
He was arrested on February 18 in Texas, a law enforcement source familiar with the investigation previously told CNN.
Carpenter admitted to investigators that he wanted to target certain officials and Nessel was among them, the law enforcement source said. Although court documents did not reference Nessel or other officials by name, the Democratic attorney general said in a tweet earlier this month that she was among the targets.
CNN’s Jack Forrest contributed to this report.