A 56-year-old man was arrested for allegedly sending messages threatening Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease scientist, and his family, saying they would be “dragged into the street, beaten to death, and set on fire.”
Thomas Patrick Connally Jr. of Greenbelt, Maryland, was charged with threats against a federal official and interstate communication containing a threat to harm, according to a federal criminal complaint filed Monday.
“We will never tolerate violent threats against public officials,” acting US Attorney Jonathan Lenzner said in the complaint. “Our public health officials deserve our thanks and appreciation for their tireless work, and we will not hesitate to bring charges against those individuals who seek to use fear to silence these public servants.”
Connally allegedly sent threatening emails from December 2020 to July 2021 telling Fauci to "blow your own fucking brains out" and referred to the doctor as a "liar" and a "fraud." The threats to Fauci and his family were sent from an email account via a provider of encrypted services based in Switzerland, according to investigators.
"Hope you get a bullet in your compromised satanic elf skull today," the subject line of two emails Fauci received in December 2020 states. On April 24 alone, he received seven emails from the encrypted email account, according to the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint. The emails also encourage Fauci to kill himself and contain death threats against him and his family.
If convicted, Connally faces up to 10 years in federal prison for threats against a federal official and a maximum of five years in federal prison for interstate communication containing a threat to harm.
This isn't the first time Fauci and his family received death threats amid the coronavirus pandemic, and it's only gotten worse as conservatives manifest their frustration over COVID-19 restrictions into more vitriol.
Just last week, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida announced drink koozies and T-shirts reading "Don't Fauci My Florida" as part of a campaign, the Washington Post reported. Fox News host Tucker Carlson has called Fauci — now a White House medical adviser — a "fraud" and has pushed for an investigation of the doctor's role concerning the origins of COVID-19. Republican members of the House filed a "Fire Fauci Act" in April.
Fauci's strained relationship with former president Donald Trump has also made him a target for conservatives. The doctor told the New York Times earlier this year of his difficulty to get Trump to listen to his scientific recommendations.
"I would try to express the gravity of the situation, and the response of the president was always leaning toward, 'Well, it’s not that bad, right?' And I would say, 'Yes, it is that bad,'" Fauci told the Times.
Fauci has been vocal about the death threats directed at him and his family, which he told the Times started as early as March 2020. In one instance, he received a letter containing powder that exploded all over his face and chest.
"Getting death threats for me and my family and harassing my daughters to the point where I have to get security is just, I mean, it's amazing," Fauci said during an online forum last year. At that time, he called the threats "unseemly things that crises bring out in people."
Fauci told CNN this week that the US is "going in the wrong direction" in terms of COVID-19 cases. He blamed unvaccinated Americans for the surge in infections, particularly with the more contagious Delta variant.
Connally is due to appear in a federal court on Wednesday.