Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said Tuesday his office was investigating Facebook threats targeting Washington sheriffs who have denounced Initiative 1639, the state gun-control law that voters passed in November.
“I-1639 is law,” said one threat posted Friday. “sheriffs that are non compliant will be shot. by me.”
“Ozzie Knezovich is gonna get a bullet in his skull,” another post said.
The sheriff’s office said authorities were alerted to the threats Monday afternoon by a concerned citizen who called the Crime Check hotline.
The sheriff’s office did not disclose the name associated with the Facebook account, but a news release quoted the threatening Facebook posts. A search for those specific statements showed they were posted by a “Jaydin Ledford,” a self-described Marxist living in Omak, Washington.
State records show there is a 23-year-old Jaydin H. W. Ledford registered to vote in Omak. The person behind the Facebook account did not respond to a message seeking comment Tuesday.
A Twitter account using the same name posted similar political vitriol until the account went silent a year ago. One of the last tweets reads “#PubliclyHangDevinNunes,” a reference to U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif.
The threats surfaced a day after three Washington sheriffs said they would not or could not enforce I-1639, which adds requirements on gun storage and background checks and raises the minimum age to purchase semi-automatic assault rifles.
At least seven other county sheriffs and at least one police chief previously made similar announcements. Knezovich has accused them of “grandstanding,” though he also considers the law unenforceable.
“republican terrorists,” the Jaydin Ledford Facebook account posted Monday, sharing a KHQ story about the sheriffs’ announcements. “i am going to kill every single one of them.”
Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Knezovich said his detectives were looking into the threats and forwarding information to the FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force. He said he had put a notice out to other Washington sheriffs. The Grant County Sheriff’s Office said it was cooperating in the investigation.
“This individual needs to be located. This individual needs to be charged and held accountable,” Knezovich said. “And maybe if we start doing that, maybe we’ll send a message across the board to everybody that wants to be a bully or a keyboard warrior, that you’re not going to get away with it.”
I-1639, which received nearly 60 percent of the statewide vote in November, was backed by the Alliance for Gun Responsibility. Renee Hopkins, the group’s CEO, condemned the threats in a statement Tuesday.
“Working to prevent gun violence means not just passing laws and making sure policies are implemented, but also doing what we can to build communities where these kinds of threats are not part of anyone’s life,” Hopkins said. “Actions like this are a shameful sign that our state and country are held in the vice-grip of gun violence, even when shots aren’t being fired.”
Editor’s note: This story was updated on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019, to note that voter records show there is a 23-year-old Jaydin H. W. Ledford living in Omak.
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