A Winter Haven man was arrested after posting on Facebook that he wanted to "go to literal war against liberals" and shoot members of Congress and their families depending on how the Supreme Court justice confirmation vote went, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.
James Royal Patrick, Jr., 53, wrote the threats on his personal Facebook page. He said he would shoot "weak republicans" and any local or federal law enforcement members who responded to his home, according to the sheriff’s office.
"I can tell it seems I will be sacrificing my life for my country," Patrick wrote. "But I am ready and will know who needs to be killed after the vote to put Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court."
Sheriff Grady Judd held a news briefing Thursday afternoon to share quotes from the Facebook posts and photos of guns and ammo that had been seized from Patrick’s house.
"Ladies and gentlemen, words matter," he said. "And words will get you locked up in the county jail under a $500,000 bond."
The Facebook posts included details about buying new ammo for a sniper rifle and a suppressor. He wrote that he had "just cleaned out the gun shop" and was stockpiling supplies in a tunnel under his house (Judd noted that deputies did not find a tunnel underneath the home). He also wrote that he was about to accept an offer on his house "to get more money to fund my plan to kill."
"Getting ready if Kav is not confirmed," he wrote. "Whoever I think is to blame, God have mercy on their soul."
The posts urged other conservatives to join him by going to the homes of liberals and "killing them in their sleep."
"I can’t do this by myself," he said.
Patrick also wrote about making final arrangements, such as a plan for the care of his dog, because he wouldn’t be coming home.
"I expect to be confronted and I will be ready to kill and ready to die," he said.
Patrick began his threatening posts on September 22 and added to them on September 24 and September 29, Judd said. The Polk Sheriff’s Office received an email tip on October 3 and secured a search warrant for Patrick’s residence and arrest warrant within five hours.
Deputies worked with FBI agents from the joint terrorism task force, Judd said. Patrick had posted about having a .50-caliber rifle. Deputies found a .50-caliber Desert Eagle handgun instead. They also seized a 308 hunting rifle with scope, numerous receipts from local gun shops, several used targets and "a lot of ammo."
Judd said the man didn’t think he would get in trouble for the threats because he hadn’t specifically named individuals that he wanted to kill.
"Newsflash: You’re in trouble. You’re in a lot of trouble." Judd said.
Judd said a new Risk Protection Order could be used to keep Patrick from possessing a firearm if he does post bail.
Many times these mass shooters don’t have criminal histories, Judd said. He called Patrick "the kind of person we worry about."
Citizens are encouraged to take online threats seriously and to report them to law enforcement if they are concerned.
"Understand no matter what community you live in, the community’s job is if you see something or hear something, say something, and I promise we’ll act," Judd said.