FBI agents have arrested a Las Vegas man on a charge of making threats against President Barack Obama.
Tyrone Paul Ponthieux, 55, also was charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
At his initial appearance in court Friday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Nancy Koppe ordered him detained pending trial.
Agents with the Las Vegas FBI’s domestic terrorism squad questioned Ponthieux at his home May 21 about whether he inquired about obtaining ammonium nitrate, a chemical used in fertilizer and making bombs, according to a complaint unsealed late last week,.
Independently, agents learned that Ponthieux had made a death threat on his Facebook page in November 2014 against Obama and members of Congress, the complaint alleges. The Facebook page contains a photo of Ponthieux sitting on a black Hummer holding an AR-15 rifle.
“I think we all need to get our guns and shoot all these out of control congressmen and senators and Obama!” the threat says. “Any survivors, hang them, then try their dead bodies for high treason!”
The rest of the message is filled with expletives and graphic details of further harm to Obama and the others, including putting the bodies in a wood chipper.
The complaint says the threat was discovered “during the course of conducting open source Internet searches related to another investigation.”
During questioning, Ponthieux admitted posting the death threat and others against the president and congressional members in recent months, the complaint alleges.
“Ponthieux said he made the threats because he was very angry and frustrated with the United States government,” according to the complaint. “Ponthieux said that he believes the U.S. government no longer supports the American people and feels that it is President Obama’s fault.”
Agents did not find any explosives or bomb-making materials in the home, but authorities seized a bag of marijuana and a .22-caliber rifle suspected of being stolen. Five other rifles and two handguns, all registered to Ponthieux, also were found in the home.
On Tuesday Ponthieux’s court-appointed lawyer, William Gamage, said it’s early in the case but he believes the threat allegations “may be covered as First Amendment protected speech.”
Contact Jeff German at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-8135. Find him on Twitter: @JGermanRJ.