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Pasco deputy under investigation after Instagram post about killing ‘Marxist terrorists’

An account linked to Deputy Jesse Francis urged others to take up arms "to defend (President Trump) and the Republic."

A Pasco County Sheriff’s deputy is under internal investigation after the Tampa Bay Times asked questions about his recent Instagram posts, including one calling for people to “defend (President Trump) and the Republic against anarchist/marxist terrorists.”

The posts were made on an Instagram account under the name Chino Wen. A reader who brought the posts to the Times’ attention said it belonged to Deputy Jesse Francis, who also has a Facebook page under the same name. Both pages are public. A background check shows that Francis’ middle name is Wen.

Francis, 41, doesn’t identify himself on either page, but his Facebook page contains several posts about the death of his father, James Blake Francis, in 2018, including a photo album titled “Beloved Father (and Uncle, Brother, Cousin, and Friend to many).” An obituary for the elder Francis identifies Jesse Francis as one of his children.

On Sunday morning, a text post on the Instagram page urged readers to be prepared to take up arms.

“When President Trump gets reelected, be prepared to defend him and the Republic against anarchist/marxist terrorists who are determined to destroy this country,” it reads. “Remember, forcible felonies (arson, felony/aggravated battery, etc) could be responded with and up to deadly use of force in self-defense and defense of others. How prepared are you to defend the Republic and the Constitution of the United States of America?”

One commenter on the post said it shows almost “all the pieces for a (concealed weapons permit), just hope I can afford a solid firearm before it’s too late.” Another said: “Amen we will take this country back.”

Related: Man accused of threatening to kill protesters and children in Facebook posts

A screenshot of the Chino Wen Instagram page, sent to the Times on Sunday morning, showed that the preview of the text post had been blurred and overlaid with a symbol Instagram uses to flag posts that display violent or otherwise sensitive content. Tuesday, the post was no longer blurred and the symbol was gone.

Several posts on the page depict firearms, including at least one AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle. Another shows a man wearing a military-issue gas mask while reading Sun Tzu’s book The Art of War.

Amanda Hunter, a spokeswoman for the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office, said the agency hadn’t received complaints about Francis’ use of social media but began an internal affairs investigation after the Times brought the posts to the office’s attention.

The Sheriff’s Office, citing the ongoing investigation, did not make Francis available for comment. Francis did not immediately return a call from the Times.

Related: Video of ex-Pasco deputy saying she’ll kill rioters is ‘appalling,’ sheriff says

A summary of Francis’ internal affairs record shows five previous investigations, all for vehicle collisions. Three of them were deemed unavoidable. He was found to be at fault in the other two, which both occurred in May 2018.

In one, he took his eyes off the road and crashed into the vehicle of another deputy, who had braked in front of him. He was given a letter of reprimand and lost his take-home car privileges for a week. In the other, he struck a trash can on the side of a dark road, causing minor damage to his vehicle.

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