An Encino man was arrested Thursday for allegedly threatening to shoot Boston Globe employees in the head, echoing President Donald Trump by calling the newspaper workers an “enemy of the people.
Robert Darrell Chain, 68, is scheduled to make his initial federal court appearance Thursday afternoon in downtown Los Angeles, but he is expected to be transferred to Massachusetts for arraignment in federal court in Boston.
A criminal complaint filed Aug. 13 in Boston charges Chain with making threatening communications across state lines. A firearms check revealed that Chain owns several firearms, and bought a new 9mm carbine rifle earlier this year, according to the complaint.
Prosecutors allege that when the Globe called for newspapers around the country to use their opinion pages to voice support of the First Amendment and denounce Trump’s repeated description of the news media as an “enemy of the people,” Chain made over a dozen threatening calls to the newspaper between Aug. 10 and Aug. 22.
In the calls, Chain referred to the Globe as “the enemy of the people” and threatened to kill newspaper employees, according to prosecutors.
According to the complaint, on Aug. 16, the day the coordinated editorial response was published in the Boston Globe and newspapers across the country, Chain allegedly called the Globe newsroom and threatened to shoot Globe employees in the head “later today, at 4 o’clock.”
As a result of that call, Globe officials contacted law enforcement, which maintained a presence at the newspaper’s offices throughout the day.
The charge of making threatening communications in interstate commerce calls for a possible prison sentence of up to five years, prosecutors said.
Jane Bowman, spokeswoman for the Globe, issued a statement thanking the FBI and authorities in Boston and Los Angeles “for the work they did in protecting the Globe while threats were coming in, for investigating the source and for making this arrest. We couldn’t have asked for a stronger response.
“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,” Bowman said in the statement published by the Globe.
News of the arrest broke just hours after Trump again took to Twitter to lash out at the media, punctuating his post with his oft-repeated denigration of the news media as the “enemy of the people.”
“I just cannot state strongly enough how totally dishonest much of the media is,” Trump wrote.
In announcing the indictment of Chain, U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts Andrew Lelling — a Trump appointee — said in a statement, “Anyone — regardless of political affiliation — who puts others in fear for their lives will be prosecuted by this office. 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.”
Alexandra Ellerbeck, North American program coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists, an independent nonprofit organization that promotes press freedom worldwide, issued a statement condemning the threats against the Globe.
“Journalists should never face violence for doing their jobs, yet in the United States multiple news outlets have reported direct threats of physical violence,” Ellerbeck said. “It is crucial that in this hostile climate, newsrooms and law enforcement take threats against reporters seriously. We are glad that they appear to have done so in the case of the threats against the Boston Globe.”