SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF/AP) — A Bay Point man, who falsely identified himself on Facebook as a retired Alameda County Sheriff’s deputy, has been charged with threatening family members of a New York congressman and a journalist in text messages sent during the attack on the Capitol.
Robert Lemke, 35, was arrested by FBI San Francisco agents in Bay Point on charges filed in Manhattan federal court. He was scheduled to make an initial appearance in federal court in Northern California on Wednesday.READ MORE: Bay Area Health Expert Hails Potential of Single-Shot COVID-19 Vaccine in Pandemic Battle
Alameda County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Sgt. Ray Kelly told KPIX 5 that Lemke’s claim on Facebook to be a former deputy was completely false.
A law enforcement source confirmed to CBS News a New York Times report that the man allegedly threatened Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries and ABC News journalist George Stephanopoulos.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said in a release that Lemke was dissatisfied with the 2020 presidential election results and statements the U.S. representative and journalist had made about it.
“Rather than peaceably disagree, Lemke allegedly threatened to harm those individuals’ families, demanding they retract their statements,” she said. “While in any election it is inevitable that some will be disappointed in the result, threats of violence cannot and will not be tolerated.”
William F. Sweeney Jr., the head of New York City’s FBI office, said Lemke’s threats “crossed a bright line.”
According to the criminal complaint, Lemke on Jan. 6 sent text messages to the brother of a New York City congressman that included a picture of a home located in the brother’s neighborhood.READ MORE: High School Girl Sues San Mateo County, State of California to Allow Indoor Youth Sports
“Your brother is putting your entire family at risk with his lies and other words. We are armed and nearby your house. You had better have a word with him,” one text said. “We are not far from his either. Already spoke to (the Congressman’s son) and know where his kids are.”
The complaint said the text messages included claims that the sender and his associates were not white supremacists and were “active/retired law enforcement or military.”
“Stop telling lies; Biden did not win, he will not be president,” the texts said.
Authorities also said that Lemke on Jan. 6 sent threatening text messages to the congressman’s sister-in-law, telling her to have her husband talk to his brother and stating: “calm your husband down . . . . We saw on the hidden camera, he was quite stirred up.”
The complaint alleged that a Jan. 6 text message from Lemke’s phone to a relative of the journalist said the journalist’s words “are putting you and your family at risk.”
The text added: “We are nearby armed and ready. Thousands of us are active/retired law enforcement, military, etc. That’s how we do it,” the complaint said.MORE NEWS: Longtime San Francisco Merchants Lament Recent Spike in Burglaries
The complaint also said Lemke’s apparent Facebook page contained the following message on Nov. 7: ““Folks. Be ready for war. Trump has refused to cede. Evidence shows fraud occurred and the Supreme Court cases will be successful. We block chained and watermarked ballots in 16 states. Trump will prevail.”