Jeremiah M. Perez, 33, was arrested after Google contacted the FBI’s San Francisco office on Dec. 17 to report what it considered to be threatening comments posted on a YouTube video.
The alleged threats to the officers stem from the outcomes of the grand jury decisions in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York City that cleared police officers of any wrongdoing in the deaths of two unarmed Black men. While the disappointment in the decision led to nationwide protests, the threats to the lives of officers are not connected with the thousands of people peacefully demonstrating.
Last Saturday in New York City, two officers were fatally shot while in their patrol car by a man who also allegedly made threats on social media. Ismaaiyl Brinsley, 28, referenced the death of Eric Garner in New York City on his Instagram saying, “I’m putting wings on pigs today. They take 1 of ours, let’s take 2 of theirs,” according to the Denver Post. Brinsley, who reportedly suffered from a mental illness, shot and killed officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos.
“Those who threaten the lives of law enforcement officers through interstate communications will be fully investigated by the FBI and our partners,” FBI Denver Special Agent in Charge Thomas Ravenelle said in a statement. “The perceived anonymity of the Internet will not serve as a shield for espousing violence in violation of federal law.”
Perez claims that he had “bad experiences” growing up around law enforcement, according to an FBI arrest warrant affidavit.
According to the affidavit, he believed he had been discriminated against by police officers in the past “because of his Latino heritage.”
It also noted that Perez served in the U.S. armed forces and that he said his father used to be a police officer employed by the U.S. Air Force.
The tip from Google led the FBI to investigate the post in question and found that the user named “Vets Hunting Cops” came from an IP address in Colorado, the Post reported.
“SINCE DARREN WILSON our group has killed 6 retired sheriffs and cops……because of this event we will hunt two more in colorado this week…..for every innocent citizen that cops kill WE, VETERANS WILL KILL RETIRED HELPLESS COPS,” the post read. “COPS ARE THE REAL ENEMIES OF FREEDOM LOVING AMERICANS.”
When the FBI arrested Perez on Monday, the forensic examination of his computer confirmed that the post came from his device, according to the Denver Post.
Even though his post implied that he was associated with a group setting out to kill cops, he told authorities he was acting alone and was trying to “add legitimacy” to his threat.
Perez’s computer also showed a history of searches that included: “kill sarah palin,” “kill barack obama,” “kill cory gardner,” and “google maps for fox news headquarters,” according to CBS Denver.
Perez is scheduled to appear in court next week. He is facing up to five years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine.