Virginia Man Accused of Tweeting Threats to Shoot Senators - NBC4 Washington

Virginia Man Accused of Tweeting Threats to Shoot Senators

Defense attorney: Messages were 'political discourse' on gun control

    processing...

    NEWSLETTERS

    A Virginia man who works as an Uber driver tweeted threats to shoot at least two U.S. senators, according to testimony at a hearing Monday in a Virginia court. Scott MacFarlane reports. (Courtroom sketches by Bill Hennessy.) (Published Monday, June 27, 2016)

    What to Know

    • The tweets, which included graphic and violent language, prompted an investigation.

    • The suspect's car was detected within two blocks of the Capitol after some of the tweets were sent.

    • "I don't know how to read these tweets in any way but as threatening," a judge said.

    A Virginia man who works as an Uber driver tweeted threats to shoot at least two U.S. senators, according to testimony at a hearing Monday in a Virginia court.

    Kyler Schmitz has been ordered held in jail.

    In at least one of the tweets, sent in the days immediately after the Orlando nightclub shooting, Schmitz allegedly threatened to shoot Sen. Roy Blunt, a Republican of Missouri. The message was directed at Blunt's official Twitter handle.

    The tweets, which included graphic and violent language, led to an investigation by U.S. Capitol Police.

    An automated license plate reader detected Schmitz's car on Independence Avenue SW, within two blocks of the U.S. Capitol, in the hours after he posted some of the messages, prosecutors said.

    Schmitz acknowledged sending the tweets, his fiancé, Paul Cianciolo, told News4, but said the tweets were meant as "parody" and satire. The messages were "inartful political discourse" on the issue of gun control, Schmitz’s defense attorney said.

    But U.S. Capitol Police said in a court filing Schmitz intended to make a "direct threat" to a U.S. senator.

    Schmitz does not own a gun, according to testimony at Monday's court hearing.

    In other Twitter posts, Schmitz is accused of threatening groups of members of Congress by writing, "I can't wait to shoot you in the face one by one."

    A judge ordered Schmitz held until future court proceedings.

    "I don't know how to read these tweets in any way but as threatening," the judge told Schmitz.