Police: Ex-officer jailed over DC-related online threats

January 13, 2021 GMT

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — A Florida man who is a former police officer made online threats involving potential violence in Washington, authorities said Wednesday.

Shannon Badgett, 53, was arrested and charged with communicating a written threat to conduct a mass shooting or act of terrorism, the Haines City Police Department said in a news release.

Police say Badgett, a former Ohio police officer, was jailed and will undergo a mental health evaluation. It wasn’t immediately clear if he had a lawyer to represent him. Police said he worked for 12 years as an officer in Lake Township, Ohio, and possibly at one other law enforcement department in that state.

Investigators said a Facebook contact of Badgett’s reported some of his posts to them. The posts expressed frustration with what Badgett considers election fraud in the 2020 presidential vote, in which President-elect Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump.

“Our courts are unable to articulate their choice by refusing to hear any evidence regarding voter fraud,” one online post said.

There was no widespread fraud in the election, which a range of election officials across the country including Trump’s former attorney general, William Barr, have confirmed.

According to police, Badgett said he would go to a “target-rich environment” in Washington if Trump did not impose martial law. The post adds “Pew. Pew. Pew,” which police say is an imitation of gunshots.

Badgett also claimed in posts that he was building an anti-tank rifle and machine guns without any kind of legal authority, investigators said.

“Why do I need ‘permission’ if I live in a country where I supposedly allowed to do as I choose?” one post says.

Other posts make apparent references to Chief Justice John Roberts, including one containing a veiled threat.

“If I don’t see his resignation, soon. Bad things happen to good people,” the post says.

At least five other men from Florida are facing charges related to last week’s violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, but there’s no indication Badgett took part in that.

Police said Badgett admitted writing the online posts but said he never intended to hurt anyone. Family members told authorities Badgett has mental health issues and that there are no weapons in his home.

But police were taking no chances.

“Given the high political tensions of late, these threats simply could not be ignored,” Haines City Police Chief Jim Elensky said in the news release. “Our detectives acted swiftly to ensure that these posts did not escalate into actions here or anywhere else.”

Haines City is about 38 miles (60 kilometers) southwest of Orlando.