ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) – An Alaskan man is facing federal charges after he allegedly threatened to hire a killer to assassinate U.S. soldier Lisa Murkowski.
In a separate threat in a voice message at Murkowski’s Washington, D.C., office, the caller asked if Alaska Republicans could find out what a .50 caliber shell does to a person’s head, without a court record on Wednesday.
Jay Allen Johnson, 55, of Delta Junction, was scheduled to make his first appearance in Fairbank’s U.S. District Court on Wednesday on charges of threatening two senators, but the hearing lasted until Thursday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
The two senators were not named in an affidavit outlining an investigation filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office or FBI Special Agent Matthew Patrick Allen Odbear.
However, U.S. Army spokeswoman Karina Burger, Lisa Murkowski, confirmed in an email to the Associated Press that Alaska was one of the Republican targets and was listed as “Senator 1” in the affidavit.
“Threats should be taken seriously and we should enforce the law to ensure accountability,” Borger told the AP in a follow-up email. “Senator Murkowski is grateful for the hard work of federal law enforcement and for what they do to protect us.”
Alaska’s other U.S. senator, Dan Sullivan, was “Senator 2” in the affidavit, his senior adviser Amanda Cohen said in an email. He said Sullivan would have no further comment because it was an ongoing investigation.
Johnson was arrested Monday and held at the Fairbanks Correctional Complex. The lawsuit was filed against federal public defender Gary Colbath and did not immediately return a phone call to the AP asking for comment. Charging documents for the case were filed under the October 1 seal, which was withdrawn on Wednesday.
According to a criminal complaint filed in federal court, Johnson faces a number of charges, including threatening to kill a U.S. official, including intimidating or obstructing a person while performing his or her official duties, interstate threats and fire or explosives. Threatens to damage property. The affidavit did not detail any motives.
The phone system in the senators’ office captures the caller ID of incoming calls. According to the affidavit, the investigation into the number led law enforcement to identify only one woman identified by the initials “CP”, who married Johnson in 2016 in Texas. Court documents say further investigations matched the numbers with both Johnson and CP and with a post office box and a reconstructed physical address at Delta Junction.
Delta Junction, a community of only one thousand inhabitants, is located about 100 miles (161 kilometers) southeast of Fairbanks.
In the affidavit, the last four digits of the telephone number are rescheduled but the area code of the phone code and the first three numbers are the same and used in all calls, the affidavit said.
In the affidavit, the senators are referred to only by numbers 1 and 2.
It said a voice message left at Senator 1, or Murkowski’s office, on Sept. 29 was directed at the senator by name and the caller threatened to hire an assassin. The affidavit states, “Resign or disappear, or die”.
On September 2, another voicemail was left in Murkowski’s office. I will find out all your possessions, and I will burn whatever you hope for, and I will burn whatever you hope for.
The caller then says he will use his skills as an expert: “50 caliber shell, have you ever seen what it does in a human head?”
Officials say Murkowski’s office received four more voicemails from the same telephone number between August and September.
The affidavit further states that the senator received 13 voice messages between April 2 and September, and that several callers identified themselves as Jay Johnson. In another, the caller gave that name along with an address at Delta Junction, court documents say. No details of those calls were released.