A California man was charged with threatening to kill employees of The Boston Globe, whom he called “the enemy of the people,” federal officials said Thursday.
Robert Chain, 68, from Encino, allegedly made 14 threatening calls to the paper from Aug. 10 through Aug. 22. He is charged with one count of making threatening communications in interstate commerce, according to a statement from Andrew Lelling, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts.
“In a time of increasing political polarization, and amid the increasing incidence of mass shootings, members of the public must police their own political rhetoric. Or we will,” Lelling said in the statement.
Some of the calls were recorded, according to the FBI. On the day The Boston Globe published a coordinated editorial response with other newspapers around the country to attacks on the press and in defense of the First Amendment, Chain is accused of calling them and threatening to kill newspaper employees.
“You’re the enemy of the people, and we’re going to kill every f—— one of you,” the caller said. “Hey, why don’t you call the F, why don’t you call Mueller, maybe he can help you out, buddy.”
In response, local law enforcement maintained a presence outside the Globe’s offices, according to the statement.
Chain owns several firearms, including buying a 9 mm carbine rifle in May, according to the criminal complaint.
Law enforcement officials in California said Chain was taken into custody without incident and federal agents were searching his home.
Hank Shaw, in charge of the FBI’s Boston office, said in the statement, “All threats are taken seriously, as we never know if the subject behind the threat intends to follow through with their actions.”
“Everyone has a right to express their opinion, but threatening to kill people, takes it over the line and will not be tolerated,” he said.
The FBI said that even though Chain blocked his caller ID, they were able to trace the calls to his address in California and used public databases to confirm that he lived there. In addition, Chain made two calls from his cellphone that were unblocked.
President Donald Trump has repeatedly lashed out against the press and called the news media an “enemy of the people,” using the phrase as recently as Thursday on Twitter.
Chain faces up to five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 if convicted and was scheduled to appear in federal court in Los Angeles on Thursday and be transferred to Boston at a later date.
The Boston Globe thanked law enforcement in a statement.
“While it was unsettling for many of our staffers to be threatened in such a way, nobody – really, nobody – let it get in the way of the important work of this institution,” a newspaper spokesperson said.