(JTA) – The FBI coordinated with local authorities in mid-February to arrest a heavily armed man who had threatened to kill all Jewish elected officials in Michigan on social media, according to a recently unsealed criminal case.
The man appears to have been a former employee of the University of Michigan.
Jack Eugene Carpenter III, a resident of Tipton, Michigan, had tweeted on Feb. 17 that he was “heading back to Michigan now threatening to carry out the punishment of death to anyone that is jewish in the Michigan govt if they don’t leave, or confess,” according to the FBI’s affidavit. There are several prominent Jewish elected officials in the state, including Attorney General Dana Nessel, U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin and a handful of state senators and representatives.
In a tweet Thursday, Nessel said the FBI had confirmed she was one of Carpenter’s targets, and added, “It is my sincere hope that the federal authorities take this offense just as seriously as my Hate Crimes & Domestic Terrorism Unit takes plots to murder elected officials.”
Carpenter has been charged with transmitting an interstate threat, for which he could receive up to five years in federal prison, and is being held without bail in a federal court in Detroit, according to local reports. He was in Texas when he made the tweets, the FBI said.
On a Twitter account the FBI linked to Carpenter, he claimed to be a former employee of the University of Michigan who “was fired for refusing to take experimental medication,” apparently referring to the COVID-19 vaccine. The University of Michigan has more than 6,500 Jewish students, according to Hillel International.
“Probable cause exists that” Carpenter’s Twitter account “made threats to cause injury and death to Jewish members of the Michigan government,” FBI Special Agent Sean Nicol wrote in the Feb. 18 affidavit.
This is the latest antisemitic threat to emerge in the state of Michigan. In December a man in suburban Detroit was charged with ethnic intimidation after screaming antisemitic profanities at a local synagogue preschool. The state has also been home to a growth in violent extremist movements, including a group recently put on trial for plotting to kidnap Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer; one of the leaders of that effort was sentenced to 19 years in prison.
The University of Michigan had employed Carpenter for 10 years and let him go in 2021, a spokesperson for the university told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. A review of the university’s publicly available salary disclosure information shows Carpenter was a systems administrator in the computing department at the dean’s office of the College of Literature, Science and the Arts, the school’s largest college.
The university did not elaborate on Carpenter’s employment or why he was no longer with the school, citing its policy on personnel matters.
Federal agents determined that Carpenter had previously been arrested on assault charges and had stolen one of his handguns from his girlfriend. His mother told authorities he was in possession of several firearms, including three handguns, a 12-gauge shotgun and a military-style hunting rifle.
The Feb. 17 tweet by Carpenter directly threatening to kill Jewish elected officials, as quoted by the FBI, was not visible on the public Twitter account linked to him as of March 1. But a stated intent to return to Michigan that was also quoted by the FBI was visible, as were many other violent threats and antisemitic rants, including threatening allusions to the antisemitic conspiracy theory that the COVID-19 vaccine was developed by Jews as a means of controlling the world.
“Any Jewish person holding a public office on my land after that time is subject to immediate punishment for their participation in an unlawful war of aggression using a biological weapon against me,” he wrote. Carpenter also threatened any law enforcement personnel who planned to interfere with him with “deadly force.”
In multiple paranoid manifestos posted to his Twitter, Carpenter also declared himself “the King of Israel” and declared that he was forming a new state on his property, one the FBI said he had declared “New Israel.” He also tweeted that, should he be arrested, he planned to “get the lawyer removed due to conflict of interest because they are Jewish.” Carpenter mentions some public figures by name in his manifestos, including Whitmer; Anthony Fauci; Chris Cuomo; and multiple University of Michigan personnel, all of whom he planned to target for “crimes against humanity”; the only Jewish figure he mentions is Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla.
Carpenter also made references to several prominent right-wing conspiracy theories, including the QAnon movement and the belief that President Joe Biden was not lawfully elected. In one tweet, Carpenter threatened to have Twitter CEO Elon Musk “publicly hanged.”
Carpenter further said he would “grant a brief reprieve to any Zionist Christian or Zionist Jew” who wished “to return to the country to which you actually owe allegiance.”
Update (3/2/23): Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said the FBI confirmed she was one of Carpenter’s targets.