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Texas woman charged with threatening federal judge overseeing Trump Jan. 6 case

Woman charged with threatening federal judge
Texas woman charged with threatening federal judge in Trump Jan. 6 case 00:28

A Texas woman was arrested last week on allegations that she sent a threatening and racist voicemail to the federal judge in Washington, D.C., who was randomly assigned to oversee the Justice Department's election interference case against former President Donald Trump.

According to a criminal complaint filed last week, on the night of Aug. 5, prosecutors allege that Abigail Jo Shry left a voicemail for Judge Tanya Chutkan, who is Black, that said in part, "You are in our sights, we want to kill you."

In the message to Chutkan, Shry alleged that if Trump were not to be elected president in 2024, "we are coming to kill you," and "you will be targeted personally, publicly, your family, all of it," per the complaint.

In the voicemail, Shry also made similar threats against Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, who is also Black, along with threats against the LGBTQ community, the complaint reads.

Three days after the call, special agents with the Department of Homeland Security visited Shry's home in the city of Alvin, located in the Houston metropolitan area, where she allegedly admitted to having made the call, court records state.

She told the special agents that she was not planning to travel to D.C., but "if Lee comes to Alvin, then we need to worry," the complaint states.

Shry was subsequently arrested on a federal count of transmission in interstate or foreign commerce of any communication containing a threat to injure the person of another, per the complaint.

A detention hearing was held Tuesday, according to court records. A Texas federal judge ordered that Shry be detained pending trial.

Shry's public defender did not respond to requests for comment from CBS News and the federal court in Washington, D.C. declined to comment.

Trump was indicted earlier this month by a federal grand jury in D.C. on four felony charges related to his alleged efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Chutkan, who has overseen several cases related to the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, issued a protective order last week limiting the use and disclosure of "sensitive" material in the case moving forward. Trump publicly attacked Chutkan in a Truth Social post Sunday, calling her "very unbiased & unfair."

This is one of four criminal cases brought against Trump, the latest of which was handed up Monday by the Fulton County district attorney in Georgia. That grand jury indictment also accuses Trump and 18 others of attempting to subvert the results of the 2020 election.

Recent surveys have shown increased threats to lawmakers. "60 Minutes" reported in 2021 that there were 4,000 threats against judges the prior year — a more than 400% increase than five years earlier. Judge Esther Salas, whose 20-year-old son was killed and her husband shot by a gunman targeting her in July 2020, has called on lawmakers to enact federal legislation to scrub judges' personal information from the internet.

Since then, there have been other high-profile threats to lawmakers, including a California man who was charged in 2022 with trying to assassinate Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. U.S. Capitol Police said in 2022 that they received 7,500 cases of potential threats to members of Congress.

Earlier this month, a Utah man was killed in an FBI raid after allegedly posting threats online against President Biden, his family, former President Barack Obama and others. The deadly shooting came just weeks after a man who had a warrant related to Jan. 6 was arrested running toward Obama's Washington, D.C., home. Law enforcement sources told CBS News at the time that the man's van, which was parked nearby, had multiple weapons and the materials to make some kind of explosive device akin to a Molotov cocktail, and he had made threats online toward public officials. 

Robert Legare, Melissa Quinn and Caroline Linton contributed to this report. 

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