It may be something that happens frequently to many celebrities and political figures, but it is still illegal. Death threats are treated very seriously by law enforcement, especially when directed at a sitting US Senator. A San Antonio man is learning this hard truth after threatening to kill Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas).
James Amos Headley allegedly told Cruz in a voicemail on July 11, “Pretty soon you’re gonna be runnin for your life, just hope your family is not with ya because I’m not gonna insult them, I’m gonna kill them, right after I shoot you right in front of them.” The San Antonio News-Express reports that Headley also allegedly sent threatening emails to Cruz.
Federal agents traced the messages to Headley, a Marine veteran who neighbors say who was friendly, but generally kept to himself. “He’s close to being an invalid,” said neighbor Mike Hall of Headley, who is recovering from a stroke.
What was the motive for Headley’s threats? What could make him angry enough to threaten to kill not only a sitting US Senator, but his entire family as well?
Headley admitted that, after mowing the lawn, he came inside and became upset as he watched the news. The criminal complaint affidavit, which identifies Cruz only by his initials, says, “Defendant told agents he was upset with T.C.’s position on different policies and decided to call and leave a message demonstrating an intent to impede and intimidate a U.S. official.”
Was the issue “fake news” reporting that demonized President Trump and Republicans? Is Headley a rare Texas liberal, upset with Senator Cruz’s conservative policy stances? Actually no. The Express-News says that it has confirmed through multiple sources that Headley is a supporter of President Donald Trump and was upset with Cruz’s resistance to the president’s policies.
Headley acknowledged to police that he kept a Beretta pistol in his house, but neighbor Mike Hall says he never saw him with the gun. There is no indication that Headley was plotting to carry out his threats.
Headley’s case is a reminder that words have meaning. Threatening words spoken in anger, even over the internet, can have lifechanging consequences. In Headley’s case, the consequences may be as long as 10 years in prison.