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Federal authorities arrest man who made death threats against Michigan officials

Jack Eugene Carpenter III was arrested in Texas and appeared in court on Feb. 21 • If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison.

FBI logo. Credit: Dzelat/Shutterstock.
FBI logo. Credit: Dzelat/Shutterstock.

Federal law enforcement has arrested a man with access to numerous weapons who they said made death threats against Jewish politicians in the state of Michigan.

Jack Eugene Carpenter III, 41, of Tipton, Mich., was arrested by federal agents in Texas and appeared in federal court there on Feb. 21. He was then transported to Michigan. Authorities have requested that he “be detained pending trial.”

One of those he allegedly targeted was Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, who tweeted: “The FBI has confirmed I was a target of the heavily armed defendant in this matter. It is my sincere hope that the federal authorities take this offense just as seriously as my Hate Crimes & Domestic Terrorism Unit takes plots to murder elected officials.

In a press statement, U.S. Attorney Dawn Ison said “no one should be threatened or targeted with violence because of their religious beliefs. Anyone who communicates a threat to kill or injure others can expect serious criminal consequences.”

She added that “this investigation was greatly aided by concerned citizens who timely came forward to law enforcement and thereby helped us keep our communities safe.”

According to the FBI, a Twitter threat was made by a user with the handle of “TemperedReason” on Feb. 17 “to kill Jewish government officials in Michigan,” according to the FBI’s criminal complaint.

“I’m heading back to Michigan now threatening to carry out the punishment of death to anyone that is jewish in the Michigan govt if they don’t leave, or confess, and now that kind of problem. Because I can Legally do that, right?” tweeted TemperedReason, who authorities allege is Carpenter.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel. Credit: Michigan Department of Attorney General.

On Feb. 18, he tweeted that he would be returning to town with expired license plates, saying, “You may want to let everyone know, and the Wayne County sheriff as well, any attempt to subdue me will be met with deadly force in self-defense.”

The complaint also says the Twitter feed included a “Declaration of Sovereignty, which claimed a new country named ‘New Israel’ was formed in a 9-mile radius” of an address in Tipton, in western Michigan near the border of Indiana. The address is Carpenter’s home, though he was not in Michigan. FBI agents used his cell-phone number to track him to a suburb of Fort Worth, Texas, where he was arrested.

The U.S. Justice Department said Carpenter had three 9mm semi-automatic pistols registered to him and that he was under investigation by the Michigan State Police for stealing a fourth pistol. It is also believed that he “owned a shotgun and two hunting rifles.”

Reacting to the news, Michigan State Rep. Noah Arbit (D-20th District), who took office seven weeks ago and is one of three Jewish state legislators, said in a statement: “This incident is disturbing because it is consistent with the unabated rise in antisemitism, white nationalism and hate crimes targeting Jews across the country, as well as increased political violence and threats against public officials, particularly right here in Michigan.”

In 2020, a group of men plotted to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. They were found guilty last year of supporting terrorism. In December, a man from Dearborn, Mich., was arrested and charged with ethnic intimidation for allegedly harassing preschool students and their parents at Temple Beth El in Bloomfield Township near Detroit.

If convicted, Carpenter faces up to five years in prison.

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