DENVER (Reuters) - FBI agents arrested a Colorado man who posted online threats advocating the killing of police officers after investigators received a tip-off about one of the messages from Google, prosecutors said on Tuesday.
Jeremiah M. Perez, 33, was detained without incident at his home in Colorado Springs on Monday and faces up to five years in federal prison if convicted, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado said in a statement.
It said Google urgently contacted the FBI’s San Francisco office on Dec. 17 to report a comment on a YouTube video from someone going by the username “Vets Hunting Cops.”
Referring to a white police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black teenager in Missouri in August, the message read in part: “SINCE DARREN WILSON our group has killed 6 retired sheriffs and cops ... because of this event we will hunt two more in colorado this week ... for every innocent citizen that cops kill WE, VETERANS WILL KILL RETIRED HELPLESS COPS.”
The FBI tracked the user’s profile to an address in Colorado Springs, and on Monday its agents contacted Perez there.
“At that time they determined that he knew that law enforcement officers would see the post and his intent was for them to be fearful after reading it,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in its statement. “He was then arrested.”
Two New York City police officers were shot and killed at point blank range as they sat in their patrol car on Saturday in an attack that commanders dubbed an assassination and which has left forces around the country on edge.
Prosecutors said a forensic examination of Perez’s computer confirmed it was the device used to send the post in question.
Perez appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Kristen L. Mix on Tuesday to be advised of his rights and the charges against him. Prosecutors said he will be held in custody pending a detention and preliminary hearing scheduled for Dec. 29.
U.S. Attorney John Walsh said anyone who threatened to kill police officers, or who incited others to kill them, should expect “some very serious attention” from the authorities.
“The perceived anonymity of the Internet will not serve as a shield for espousing violence,” said FBI Denver Special Agent in Charge Thomas Ravenelle.
Editing by Eric Walsh