A California man was arrested on Thursday and charged with threatening to shoot Boston Globe employees, calling them the “enemy of the people” for leading a nationwide editorial campaign critical of President Donald Trump.
Robert Chain, 68, of Encino, Calif., is charged with one count of making threatening communications in interstate commerce. He is expected to appear in a Los Angeles federal courtroom Thursday afternoon and will be transferred to Boston in the future.
On August 16, the Globe and hundreds of other newspapers published a coordinated editorial response to President Trump’s attacks on the media. Trump has regularly called members of the press the “enemy of the people,” as recently as Thursday morning.
Chain allegedly began making threatening phone calls on August 10 when the editorial campaign was announced. Prosecutors say Chain made 14 phone calls to the Globe from August 10-22.
The day the editorials went to print, Chain called the Boston Globe newsroom and “threatened to shoot Globe employees in the head ‘later today, at 4 o’clock,’” U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said. Due to the threat, Boston Police provided a presence outside the building to protect newspaper employees.
Chain faces up to five years in jail if convicted.
“Everyone has a right to express their opinion, but threatening to kill people takes it over the line and will not be tolerated,” said Harold Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division. “Today’s arrest of Robert Chain should serve a warning to others, that making threats is not a prank, it’s a federal crime.”
Lelling said that in a time of “political polarization,” the public must “police their own political rhetoric.”
Boston Globe vice president of marketing and strategic partnerships Jane Bowman issued a statement following Chain’s arrest.
“We are grateful to the FBI, the US Attorney’s Office, the Boston Police, and local authorities in California for the work they did in protecting the Globe while threats were coming in, for investigating the source, and for making this arrest. We couldn’t have asked for a stronger response,” Bowman said. “While it was unsettling for many of our staffers to be threatened in such a way, nobody – really, nobody – let it get in the way of the important work of this institution.”