Federal authorities have arrested a man accused of sending death threats to public health officials including Dr. Anthony Fauci, the high-profile director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Thomas Patrick Connally Jr., 56, is suspected of threatening Dr. Fauci and Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Justice said Tuesday.
Mr. Connally was taken into custody this week and scheduled to appear Wednesday in federal court in Greenbelt, Maryland. Court filings do not list where he lives or a lawyer who could be asked to comment.
Federal prosecutors say Mr. Connally sent numerous violent, threatening messages over the last several months to the doctors using Protonmail, an email service provider based in Switzerland.
In a court filing, a special agent for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General quoted from a series of emails allegedly sent from Mr. Connally to the doctors.
“Hope you get a bullet in your compromised satanic skull today,” Mr. Connally wrote Dr. Fauci in December.
“I will smash every bone in your worthless, venal, criminal elf skull,” reads a more recent email to Dr. Fauci dated July 21, according to court documents. “I will slaughter your entire family.”
Mr. Connally has been charged with making threats against a federal official and interstate communication containing a threat to harm. The charges carry maximum prison sentences of 10 and five years, respectively.
“We will never tolerate violent threats against public officials,” said Jonathan F. Lenzner, acting U.S. attorney for the District of Maryland, the area’s top federal law enforcement officer.
“Our public health officials deserve our thanks and appreciation for their tireless work, and we will not hesitate to bring charges against those individuals who seek to use fear to silence these public servants,” he said.
Dr. Fauci, 80, has led NIAID for decades, putting him at the forefront of efforts made during the current and previous administrations to combat the coronavirus pandemic that started in 2020.
Dr. Collins, 71, has led NIH, NIAID‘s parent agency, since 2009.
HHS oversees NIH.