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Michigan attorney general says she was target of "heavily armed" man accused of threatening to kill Jewish officials

A Michigan man has been arrested after using social media to threaten to kill Jewish members of the state's government, according to an FBI affidavit. Michigan's attorney general, Dana Nessel, said on Twitter Thursday that she was told that she was one of the targets of the "heavily armed" suspect.  

The man was identified in a criminal complaint as Jack Eugene Carpenter III. He has been charged with making threatening interstate communications. 

In this March 18, 2019, file photo, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel attends an event in Clawson, Mich.

In an affidavit, FBI special agent Sean Nicol said that Carpenter made threats on Twitter on Feb. 17, saying that he would "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." Carpenter also posted that a "New Israel" had been formed in a nine-mile radius of his home address in Lenawee County, Michigan, the affidavit says.

The FBI flagged these and other comments that Carpenter made to the Detroit FBI office on Feb. 18. An investigation into the tweets identified Carpenter, and the FBI found that he had had a personal protection order filed against him earlier in February. He had also been arrested for assault in December and owned three registered handguns. 

On Feb. 18, a Michigan state police trooper told Nicol that Carpenter was being arrested for the theft of another handgun. The trooper said that he had also recently spoken to Carpenter's mother, identified in the affidavit as "LD." She was able to verify Carpenter's Twitter account, and said that her son was in Texas but had been asking for money to come back to Michigan. His mother also said that her son owned more guns than he had registered, including a "military-style weapon." 

The morning of Feb. 18, Carpenter posted that he would be "coming back to Michigan, still driving with expired plates. You may want to let everyone know, and Wayne County sheriff as well, any attempt to subdue me will be met with deadly force in self-defense," the affidavit says.

The suspect's mother gave investigators Carpenter's phone number, and Nicol said in the affidavit that he was able to trace that number and determine that the threatening messages were being made over state lines. 

The affidavit did not say if specific politicians had been targeted or if Carpenter had made threats in other mediums, but on March 2, Nessel shared an article about Carpenter's arrest and said the FBI told her that she had been "a target." 

"The FBI has confirmed I was a target of the heavily armed defendant in this matter," said Nessel, who is the first openly LGBTQ+ person elected to serve in the state of Michigan. "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." 

Multiple state senators and representatives in Michigan are Jewish, as is Rep. Elissa Slotkin. Slotkin is running for Senate in the 2024 election. 

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