Robert Lemke, 35, of Bay Point, California, United States was arrested on January 26, 2021 and was charged with making threatening interstate communications. He was accused of sending threatening text messages to family members of a U.S. congressman and a journalist, who are based in New York City, New York, USA.
The congressman is Hakeem Jeffries, who has been serving as the U.S. representative for New York’s eighth congressional district since 2013. The journalist has yet to be named.
Lemke apparently did not believe that Donald Trump lost to Joe Biden in the 2020 U.S. presidential election. The Bay Point resident threatened a relative of the journalist on January 6, 2021, the same day Trump’s supporters breached the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C., USA, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
In a text message, Lemke told the relative that the journalist’s words were putting the relative and the relative’s family at risk. Lemke wrote, “We are nearby armed and ready.”
“Thousands of us are active/retired law enforcement, military, etc,” Lemke continued. “That’s how we do it.”
Also on January 6, 2021, Lemke sent separate text messages to Jeffries’s brother and sister-in-law. To the brother, Lemke wrote, “Your brother is putting your entire family at risk with his lies and other words.”
“We are armed and nearby your house,” Lemke continued. “You had better have a word with him. We are not far from his either.”
Included in the text message was a picture of a home in the same neighborhood as the home of the congressman’s brother. Lemke also wrote that he “already spoke” to the congressman’s son and knew “where his kids are” and that the congressman’s brother’s “words have consequences.”
“Stop telling lies; Biden did not win, he will not be president,” Lemke wrote. “We are not white supremacists. Most of us are active/retired law enforcement or military. You are putting your family at risk. We have armed members near your home… Don’t risk their safety with your words and lies.”
As if the threats were not enough, Lemke also asked the congressman’s sister-in-law to calm her husband down and have her husband talk to the congressman. Lemke wrote to her, “We saw on the hidden camera, he was quite stirred up.”
On social media, Lemke claimed that he was a retired U.S. Air Force captain and Alameda County Sheriff‘s sergeant. However, the Air Force found no record of him ever having served and the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed that the department has never employed him.
“This individual apparently had secured a phone number, secured an address, made it appear as though they were prepared to proceed violently either at the address of my family member and/or my own home address at the same time that the Capitol was being attacked,” Jeffries said of Lemke in an interview with Chris Hayes of MSNBC. The congressman thanked the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the New York Police Department, the U.S. Capitol Police and all the law enforcement authorities who took the threat seriously.