BOSTON (CBS) – A California man was arrested on Thursday and charged with threatening to shoot Boston Globe employees, calling them the “enemy of the people” for leading a nationwide editorial campaign critical of President Donald Trump.
Robert Chain, 68, of Encino, Calif., is charged with one count of making threatening communications in interstate commerce. He was released on $50,000 bail after he was arraigned in a Los Angeles federal courtroom Thursday afternoon. He will be transferred to Boston soon.
“I would like to make one statement. America was saved when Donald J. Trump was elected president,” Chain told reporters on his way out of court.
Prosecutor Matt Rosenbaum argued for Chain to remain in custody, saying he’s a danger to the community, though adding there’s no evidence Chain was planning to travel to Boston. He says 20 guns were seized during the search of Chain’s home but didn’t indicate whether any of them are believed illegally owned.
Defense attorney Andre Townsend argued for Chain to be released, saying he has no criminal record and isn’t a flight risk.
Authorities say Chain threatened the Globe in retaliation for its Aug. 16 coordination of a series of editorials condemning President Donald Trump’s suggestion that journalists are “the enemy of the people.” Trump used those words in a tweet Thursday morning, saying “how totally dishonest much of the media is… Enemy of the People!”
Chain allegedly began making threatening phone calls on Aug. 10 when the editorial campaign was announced. Prosecutors say Chain made 14 phone calls to the Globe from August 10-22.
The day the editorials went to print, Chain called the Boston Globe newsroom and “threatened to shoot Globe employees in the head ‘later today, at 4 o’clock,’” U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said. Due to the threat, Boston Police provided a presence outside the building to protect newspaper employees.
During another call on August 22, Chain said, “As long as you keep attacking the President…I will continue to threat, harass and annoy the Boston Globe, owned by the New York Times, the other fake news,” according to the FBI.
Firearm records show that Chain does own several weapons.
Chain faces up to five years in jail if convicted.
“Everyone has a right to express their opinion, but threatening to kill people takes it over the line and will not be tolerated,” said Harold Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division. “Today’s arrest of Robert Chain should serve a warning to others, that making threats is not a prank, it’s a federal crime.”
Lelling said that in a time of “political polarization,” the public must “police their own political rhetoric.”
Boston Globe vice president of marketing and strategic partnerships Jane Bowman issued a statement following Chain’s arrest.
“We are grateful to the FBI, the US Attorney’s Office, the Boston Police, and local authorities in California for the work they did in protecting the Globe while threats were coming in, for investigating the source, and for making this arrest. We couldn’t have asked for a stronger response,” Bowman said. “While it was unsettling for many of our staffers to be threatened in such a way, nobody – really, nobody – let it get in the way of the important work of this institution.”