Authorities on Wednesday arrested a 23-year-old Omak man who allegedly made Facebook posts threatening to kill law enforcement officers, including Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich.
Jaydin H. W. Ledford was peacefully taken into custody after authorities knocked on his door shortly before noon, according to Okanogan County Sheriff Tony Hawley.
Ledford was arrested on one count of harassment, a state charge, and booked into the Okanogan County Jail, but shortly afterward he was transferred to FBI custody, Hawley said.
Special Agent Christian Parker, who leads the FBI’s Spokane field office, said agents were working with federal prosecutors on a charging decision.
Ledford was booked into the Spokane County Jail shortly before 6 p.m. He appears to have no prior criminal record.
A Facebook account bearing his name posted several threats in early February 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 on Feb. 1. “sheriffs that are non compliant will be shot. by me.”
“Ozzie Knezovich is gonna get a bullet in his skull,” another post said.
The Facebook account identifies Ledford as a Marxist and generated dozens of politically charged posts each day. But the account went silent on the afternoon of Feb. 5, the day Knezovich announced his office was investigating the threats.
Ledford “had seen that his name was in the news,” Hawley said.
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.
Authorities knew early in the investigation that Ledford was a real person living in Omak, Hawley said. Ledford’s activities were monitored, and local law enforcement agencies were urged to use caution around him and his residence.
It took a couple of weeks to gather information and prepare a search warrant, and federal agents traveling from Spokane had to make considerations about the weather, Hawley said.
Hawley said the investigation involved detectives from the Omak Police Department and the Spokane County and Okanogan County sheriff’s offices, as well as a Secret Service agent and more than a dozen members of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force.