A New York man was arrested and charged on Monday for threatening to attack partygoers at the 2021 New York City Pride March with “firepower” that would “make the 2016 Orlando Pulse Nightclub shooting look like a cakewalk.”
Robert Fehring, a 74-year-old resident of Bayport, New York, allegedly mailed a series of letters to LGBTQ organizations, businesses, and individuals between May and September this year, threatening to shoot and bomb them, according to a criminal complaint unsealed in federal court.
In a letter sent on June 25 to the organizer of a pride event in East Meadow, New York, Fehring allegedly wrote: “[W]e were right there you…FREAK!!! They couldn’t get a shot off at you, slithering around the back stage area like a snake. Too many cops. Very disappointed. But your time has come. ... They are out to KILL you….and your boyfriend. You are being watched. No matter how long it takes, you will be taken out…. high-powered bullet…. bomb….knife…. whatever it takes.”
According to the complaint, Fehring marked the letter’s envelope with a “confidential stamp,” which he later explained to investigators after waiving his Miranda Rights was something he often did to ensure the letters were taken seriously by the recipients.
The stamp was also included with a May 20 letter Fehring allegedly sent to the executive director of an LGBTQ event company. That slur-filled letter, according to the complaint, read in part: “WE WARN YOU THAT THERE WILL BE RADIO-CONT[R]OLLED DEVICES PLACED AT NUMEROUS STRATEGIC PLACES, AND FIREPOWER AIMED AT YOU FROM OTHER STRATEGIC PLACES. WE’VE HAD ENOUGH!!! THIS WILL MAKE THE 2016 ORLANDO PULSE NIGHTCLUB SHOOTING LOOK LIKE A CAKEWALK.”
The Pulse Nightclub attack in Orlando, one of the deadliest mass shootings in US history, occurred on June 12, 2016, when a gunman opened fire on a crowd inside the gay venue, killing 49 people and wounding dozens of others.
Agents from the FBI’s Civil Rights Squad and the New York Joint Terrorism Task Force searched Fehring’s Bayport home on Nov. 18. There, according to the complaint, they recovered photographs from a June 2021 pride event in East Meadow, two loaded shotguns, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, two stun guns, “and a stamped envelope addressed to an LGBTQ+ affiliated attorney containing the remains of a dead bird.”
“Fehring’s alleged threats to members of the LGBTQ+ community were not only appalling, but dangerous, despite the fact he hadn’t yet acted on his purported intentions,” FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Michael Driscoll said in a statement.
Authorities said Fehring has been sending letters threatening violence with guns and explosives to organizations and businesses associated with the LGBTQ+ community, as well as government agencies, since 2013.
In a statement Monday, NYC Pride executive director Sandra Pérez said the organization takes violent threats seriously.
"We received threatening letters earlier this year and reported them. We appreciate the work of the Justice Department in investigating this situation," she said. "We are cooperating in any way we can, and we remain committed to the safety and well-being of the LGBTQIA+ community."
An attorney for Fehring could not immediately be reached for comment.
He faces up to five years in prison if convicted of the charges. He appeared in court Monday and was released on a $100,000 bond to home detention with location monitoring.