A 27-year-old man was so incensed by U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott’s (D-WA) endorsement of Hillary Clinton that he allegedly threatened to cut out the congressman’s tongue, prosecutors said, driving McDermott to arm himself with a shovel for self-defense.
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported Jasper Bell was charged with intimidating a public servant and telephone harassment for allegedly making threatening calls and regularly sending letters to McDermott’s office. Bell also allegedly showed up at McDermott’s office, where witnesses said he yelled, spit, and banged his fists on the windows before his April 22 arrest, according to the report.
In one call, Bell allegedly threatened to track down McDermott’s home address, and he called so often that office staffers recognized his cell phone number, according to the Seattle Times.
Bell told police he was angered by the congressman’s endorsement and had been trying for weeks to meet with McDermott “professionally” to discuss “why he would not vote with the majority of people in Washington,” according to charging papers. He was also upset that a Sanders supporter had been arrested earlier in the day at the lawmaker’s office.
Police said Bell apologized for his “bad choice of words,” according to the charging papers.
The threats forced McDermott to cancel a public appearance and increase security. Court records said he was rattled enough to hide a shovel “to use in self-defense if necessary” in his office.
In 2011, a California man was sentenced to eight months in prison for threatening the lives of McDermott’s family.
Correction: This post misidentified the state McDermott represents. It is Washington. The story has been updated.