, , ,

California man charged for threatening to ‘shoot up’ Eau Claire school board meeting

Jeremy David Hanson also threatened violence against Merriam-Webster, ACLU, Amnesty International and Hasbro toy maker

Police tape at a nighttime crime scene
Tony Webster

Federal investigators say the man who threatened gun violence at an Eau Claire school board meeting also claimed he would bomb the offices of dictionary publisher Merriam-Webster for including references to gender identity in its definition of female.

On Friday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of Massachusetts announced Jeremy David Hanson, 34, of Rossmoor, California, had been arrested for sending numerous anonymous threats of violence to individuals, organizations and businesses nationwide in October.

Court records show they include threats to “shoot up” or “bomb” the offices of Merriam-Webster, Amnesty International, the ACLU, Land O’ Lakes, Hasbro, IGN Entertainment and the Eau Claire Area School District Board of Education. Investigators said Hanson also sent racist, threatening emails to individuals including a Madison alder who advocated for the removal of the Chamberlain Rock at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Stay informed on the latest news

Sign up for WPR’s email newsletter.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Investigators said the text threats came from an IP address tied to a home in Rossmoor, California, where Hanson lives with his mother. The threats included an email to the CEO of The Walt Disney Co. stating, “You Marxist corporatists are the enemies of America” and “I will kill you and your entire family for promoting transgender child abuse.”

Hanson also threatened to bomb the headquarters of toy maker Hasbro for dropping the Mr. from Mr. Potato Head, investigators said.

In late March, Eau Claire Area School District Board of Education President Tim Nordin said he received an anonymous email from a sender calling themselves “Kill All Marxist Teachers” that included direct threats against him and his family. The sender also said they would “shoot up” a board meeting that evening “for promoting the horrific, radical transgender agenda.”

Nordin told Wisconsin Public Radio he’s thankful to Eau Claire Police and the FBI for making sure the person issuing terroristic threats has been identified and will hopefully be brought to justice.

Nordin said he believes attacks on transgender individuals and policies from Republican lawmakers and conservative media outlets are driving fear and anger.

“This is something that people in our country are specifically amping up right now,” Nordin said. “And that does also then amp up those on the very fringe as well, that might be likely to issue these threats or even, you know, commit acts of violence.”

A statement sent to WPR by LGBTQ+ advocacy organization Fair Wisconsin said the threats sent to Nordin and others is a “grave reminder” that anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric has real consequences on safety and well-being.

“When our politicians single out LGBTQ+ people, especially transgender kids, and make a political spectacle out of bullying them, it sets a dangerous example,” said Fair Wisconsin Executive Director Megin McDonell. “LGBTQ+ advocates I work with in Texas have told me they are seeing higher levels of harassment and attacks on transgender youth after a legislative session that platformed anti-transgender misinformation.”

Court documents show FBI agents interviewed Hanson and his mother in July 2015 in relation to threats he made via a Wikipedia page. Hanson’s mother told investigators at the time that he suffers from developmental disorders, including autism, and “is unable to reason through the consequences of making statements that could be construed as threats.”

Hanson told investigators in 2015 he felt remorse for the threats he made and that he “promised to refrain from sending any threatening remarks via social media or online in the future.”

Hanson faces one count of interstate communication of threats to commit violence, which carry maximum penalties of up to five years in prison and a fine of $250,000.