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Florida man, 72, charged with threatening to kill Democrat lawmaker and his children

Florida man, 72, charged with threatening to kill Democrat lawmaker and his children

A 72-year-old man from Florida has been charged with threatening to kill Rep Eric Swalwell and his children in several voicemail messages.

Michael Shapiro allegedly called the lawmaker’s Washington DC office on the evening of 19 December from his home in Greenacres, according to court records, and left five threatening voicemail messages.

While Rep Swalwell was not identified in court documents, he confirmed in a statement that the threats targeted him and his family.

“I’m gonna come after you and kill you,” Mr Shapiro said in one message to the lawmaker’s office, according to court records.

“I’m gonna kill your children,” Mr Shapiro threatened in another voice message, the records add.

Mr Shapiro also called the member of Congress a “greaseball” and a “a Chinese spy” in a number of expletive-filled messages in which he referred to allegations tying Rep Swalwell to a suspected Chinese intelligence operative.

A House Ethics Committee into Rep Swalwell was launched in 2021 over allegations that he had ties to a suspected Chinese spy Christine Fang.

That investigation arose from an Axios report that Fang was involved in fundraising operations for Swalwell’s 2014 re-election bid and helped put an intern in his office. The investigation was closed last year.

“There is no place in America for threats of political violence,” Rep Swalwell said in a statement on Wednesday night regarding the threatening voicemails. “We must always resolve our differences at the ballot box. While I will continue to protect my family and staff, these continued threats will never stop me from representing my constituents.”

Rep Eric Swalwell in 2019 (AP)
Rep Eric Swalwell in 2019 (AP)

Mr Shapiro appeared in court in the Southern District of Florida on Wednesday and was “found to be indigent,” according to the court docket. The public defender’s office was appointed to represent him.

It is not the first time the 72-year-old has been accused of making threats. The Justice Department also noted that he was previously accused of making threats.

“The complaint further alleges that Shapiro pleaded guilty in federal court in 2019 for making threatening communications to another victim,” the Justice Department said.

It is not clear who the other victim was or if they were a member of Congress.

Mr Shapiro’s arrest comes amid a wave of threats to public officials.

A New Hampshire man was indicted last month after allegedly sending threatening text messages to three presidential candidates, including Vivek Ramaswamy and Chris Christie.

Meanwhile, another man in New Hampshire pleaded guilty to leaving a threatening voicemail at the Washington DC office of Rep Matt Gaetz in October.

Last month, the FBI said it was working to address threats to Colorado Supreme Court justices after the court deemed former President Donald Trump ineligible for the state’s Republican primary ballot.