Man charged for alleged death threats against Rep. Grijalva
A Phoenix man faces up to a 10-year federal prison sentence for allegedly threatening to kill U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva in late April, over Grijalva's opposition to the state's new immigration law.
“We are relieved he has been caught,” said Adam Sarvana, communications director for Grijalva. “There hasn't been any sense of danger in the offices.”
Federal prosecutors say 31-year-old Justin M. Haynes was indicted Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Tucson. A federal grand jury returned a one-count indictment against Haynes, for a violation of threatening to assault, kidnap or kill a federal employee or official.
“This office takes threats against any individual, including public officials, with the utmost seriousness,” said Dennis K. Burke, U.S. attorney for the District of Arizona. “This is not protected speech. Such crimes endanger the civility our democracy is built upon.”
Prosecutors say Haynes is accused of calling Grijalva's office in Tucson twice on April 23 and threatening to “come down there and blow the brains out” of Grijalva and his employees.
Sarvana said from talking to staff members who took the two calls made to the congressman's Tucson office, the threats didn't end with his staff members.
“He also said he said he'd then go to the border and shoot any ‘Mexicans' he saw trying to come across,” Sarvana said.
Tucson police sent officers to Grijalva's office to protect the staff members following the calls. The office was later closed and staff members were sent home. As a result, all of the regional offices were briefly closed, including one in Yuma. They reopened the following Monday.
A conviction for threatening to assault, kidnap and murder officials or employees of the United States carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both.
James Gilbert can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6854.