A Pennsylvania man was federally indicted Friday after he allegedly threatened to murder members of Congress and shoot Black people to “keep them in line” during several phone calls to U.S lawmakers in 2019 and 2020.
According to a statement from U.S. Attorney Scott W. Brady’s office, a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh charged Harry E. Miller, 62, with sending threatening communications in interstate commerce. He is accused of making threats during three separate calls.
The first, on August 19, 2019, was to the district office of Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.), during which prosecutors allege Miller said he was “willing to abolish government by spilling blood by taking out four to five Democrats,” including Clark, and threatened to start shooting Black people. He also allegedly told the congressional staffer who took his call that he would die in a forthcoming civil war, according to the statement.
On January 7, 2020, Miller allegedly called the Washington, D.C. office of Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), and said he would put a bullet in the senator’s head. In another call to Burr’s office that day, which was transferred to an undisclosed individual in Tennessee, Miller said he was willing to shoot four or five senators in the head and that his words were not a threat but a promise, per the indictment.
“Threatening to injure members of Congress is a crime, not protected speech,” Brady said in a statement. “As the events of the past year show, there are individuals intent on harming our public servants and law enforcement. We will vigorously and proactively investigate, disrupt and prosecute those individuals when they violate federal law.”
Michael Christman, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Pittsburgh field office, said the First Amendment does not give people the right to threaten others.
“The mission of the United States Capitol Police is to protect the Congress, the U.S. Capitol and all who work and visit here,” Christman said. “We take all threats against members of Congress very seriously and investigate them fully.”
The FBI and Capitol Police conducted the investigation leading to the indictment. If convicted, Miller could face up to five years in prison, a $250,000 fine or both. He appeared in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh Friday and was released on a $25,000 unsecured bond.
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