The lawyer for a California man sentenced to one year in jail for making threats towards the Council on American-Islamic Relations said Tuesday that his client was provoked by alcohol and a week of binge-watching Fox News, local TV station KFMB reported.
La Mesa resident John David Weissinger pled guilty last year to making email and telephone threats to CAIR’s San Diego and Washington, D.C. offices. His lawyer, Michael Malowney, attributed his behavior to alcohol abuse and to having spent a week watching Fox News coverage of the 2015 terrorist attacks at the Paris headquarters of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which left 11 dead.
“He barks when he’s drunk,” Malowney told a judge during the Tuesday sentencing hearing, as quoted by KFMB. “He was reeling from depression and anxiety.”
Weissinger had pled guilty to hate crime allegations, making a criminal threat, and possession of an illegal assault rifle. He wept while his sentence was read, in video taken by KFMB.
A female employee at CAIR’s Kearny Mesa office had testified during the trial that Weissinger left a voicemail in January 2015 threatening to shoot her and other employees, according to the report. She said that he she had seen him hanging around the office in the weeks before the voicemail was left, and gave police his name after seeing it on the caller ID.
KFMB reported that Weissinger also admitted to sending CAIR’s Washington, D.C. office an email saying that he was going to come there with enough firepower to “kill all of you.”
CAIR has faced a number of other threats in recent months, many of them in the immediate aftermath of terrorist attacks. In early December, a man left voicemails at the organization’s St. Louis, Missouri office threatening to cut off Muslims’ heads. Just a few days later, the group’s DC offices were evacuated after the group received a letter with a powdery substance that suggested its recipients would die a “painful death.”