United States law enforcement officials have shot and killed a Utah man who allegedly made threats against President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, ahead of a scheduled presidential visit to the state.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the domestic US intelligence agency, said its agents attempted to serve search and arrest warrants early on Wednesday to the residence of Craig Robertson in Provo, Utah, south of Salt Lake City.
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Unnamed law enforcement sources told The Associated Press that Robertson was armed when the incident took place. The FBI released a statement saying the shooting was under review.
“The FBI takes all shooting incidents involving our agents or task force members seriously,” the agency said.
The shooting comes amid increased fears of political violence in the US, particularly in the wake of the attack on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.
At the time of his death, Robertson faced three felony counts, including making interstate threats, making threats against the president and influencing, impeding and retaliating against federal law enforcement officers by threat.
The criminal complaint against him highlighted social media posts Robertson made expressing violent desires towards the perceived enemies of former Republican President Donald Trump.
The filings allege that Robertson took to Facebook on Monday to say he had learned of Biden’s visit to Utah and would need to “clean the dust off the M24 sniper rifle”. Biden stopped in Utah on Wednesday, as part of a trip through the western United States.
In a previous post, in September 2022, Robertson allegedly wrote, “The time is right for a presidential assassination or two. First Joe then Kamala!!!”
Bragg, the district attorney who filed the first criminal indictment against Trump in New York, was also a target, according to the court filings. The FBI said it had been warned about Robertson’s activities in March after he posted on the platform Truth Social about wanting to “put a nice hole in his [Bragg’s] forehead”.
Online, Robertson described himself as a “MAGA Trumper”, referring to the acronym for Trump’s slogan, “Make America Great Again”.
Details about the circumstances surrounding Robertson’s death have yet to be released.
But the shooting has drawn attention to the ongoing threat of political violence in the US. A report published by the Reuters news agency on Wednesday said that the US is currently experiencing political violence on a level unseen since the 1970s, with much of it driven by the far-right.
Compared with today’s threats, however, political violence in the 1970s was largely carried out by radical left-wing groups who targeted property but avoided killing people. Those trends have shifted, the Reuters report explained, pointing to recent mass shootings in Portland, Oregon, and Buffalo, New York, perpetrated by individuals who expressed right-wing sentiment.
Since a mob of Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, in an effort to overturn Trump’s election loss, Reuters said it found 14 cases of fatal political violence, 13 of which were committed by right-wing assailants and one from the left.