Newton Wade Townsend, 52, of Brandon, Mississippi, was indicted Tuesday by a federal grand jury and charged with making a threat against public officials, announced U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst and U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund.
On June 1, 2020, Townsend placed a phone call to the office of a Member of Congress, referred to in the indictment as “B.T.,” and threatened to kill the Congressman and his African-American staffers.
While not specifically noted, “B.T.” refers to Mississippi’s 2nd District Congressman Bennie Thompson, according to those close to the investigation.
Hurst called this threat a serious federal crime in the Wednesday release.
“A violent threat against a public official is a serious federal crime. The United States Attorney’s Office will continue to protect victims, prosecute those fueled by hate who seek to intimidate and terrorize others, and always ensure that justice is done,” said U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst.
Sund commended those who assisted in the investigation.
“The mission of the United States Capitol Police is to protect the Congress, the U.S. Capitol, and all who work and visit here. Our special agents did an excellent job in investigating this case, and I appreciate the partnership of our law enforcement partners and the U.S. Attorney’s Office throughout this entire process,” said Chief Sund.
Townsend will be arraigned tomorrow, June 25, 2020, at 2:30 p.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Keith Ball. Chief U.S. District Judge Daniel P. Jordan, III has been assigned the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Meghan M. McCalla is prosecuting the case.
The public is reminded that an indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt. Every defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, per the release from the U.S. Attorney’s office.