A Wichita man has been arrested for an alleged threat to kidnap and kill Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple (D) over frustration with the city’s mask mandate.
Per the Witchita Eagle, the suspect had expressed opposition to “masks and tyranny,” in a series of texts reviewed by the city’s mayor.
“He said he was going to kidnap me and slash my throat and he needed my address because I needed to see the hangman,” Whipple said.
“It sounded like the person was very upset about pretty much mask mandates and he said something about not being able to see his mother because of COVID restrictions on elderly homes,” he added.
The news comes months after Whipple in July pushed for a city ordinance requiring face coverings to be worn in most public spaces in an effort to curb the spread of coronavirus amid a wave of similar mandates in other cities and states nationwide.
According to the Eagle, the suspect, Meredith Dowty, 59, a retired Wichita city firefighter, was also a well-known local musician who plays guitar and harmonica and has performed in local bars and nightclubs under the name “Cathead.”
Years before his alleged threat to kidnap and kill the mayor over mask requirements, Dowty was honored for his service by the Wichita City Council in 2008 for helping to save the life of a Wichita police officer who was shot in the line of duty, the Eagle reported.
According to the Eagle, Dowty was also notably among the first rescuers on the scene at a 1998 explosion of the DeBruce Grain Elevator south of Wichita, helping to remove four seriously injured people from the damaged elevator which killed seven and injured 10 employees.
Dowty who was placed behind bars at Sedgwick County Jail on Friday evening could face a charge of criminal threat the police told the Eagle.
Wichita police spokesman Charley Davidson confirmed to the paper that the department is investigating the threat and did not as of Friday evening believe that other officials had been targeted in the case.
The case is the latest example of how President Donald Trump’s months-long tirade against masks, mocking officials who wear them while refusing to wear one himself has appeared to promote sometimes violent consequences.
The President after falling ill with COVID-19 earlier this month, only recently offered tepid acceptance of masks during a Thursday night town hall on NBC — saying he was “okay with masks” after a long record of politicizing the point of guidance from public health officials to promote a fiery debate that appears to be on the verge of drawing blood in recently foiled plots.
The reported threat comes just weeks after a foiled alleged plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, (D) who was targeted for restrictions in her state amid efforts to protect against the virus’ spread.
13 men were charged with various state and federal crimes in the Whitmer case, including terrorism and conspiracy in the alleged kidnapping scheme to put Whitmer on trial for “treason.”
On Tuesday, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam was revealed as a second Democratic target for what authorities have said were violent plots against lockdown orders to curb the spread of coronavirus.
Whipple, also a Democrat, has said he believes Dowty’s posed a credible threat and that he will need additional security to protect his family in the aftermath of the alleged threat.
“This wasn’t just some guy popping off on social media,” Whipple said. “He contacted someone that knows where I live that apparently he thought would give him my address.”