An arrest came to a deadly end early Wednesday as FBI agents shot and killed an armed Utah man who had been making violent threats against President Joe Biden.
The incident occurred just hours before President Biden was scheduled to land in the state. The FBI had been attempting to serve a warrant on the home of 74-year-old Craig Deleeuw Robertson in Provo, a city south of Salt Lake City, when the confrontation escalated.
Unnamed law enforcement sources familiar with the case earlier told the Associated Press that Robertson was armed at the time of the shooting. He had previously posted menacing messages online, including references to a sniper rifle and a “presidential assassination.”
In a recent Facebook post, he wrote, “The time is right for a presidential assassination or two. First Joe then Kamala!!!” These threats had raised concerns and prompted an FBI investigation, ultimately leading to the fatal encounter.
Neighbors of Robertson, however, described him as a frail elderly man who often carried firearms but did not appear to be a direct threat. The shooting has ignited discussions about the use of force by law enforcement and the challenges in assessing potential threats posed by individuals with a history of making online threats.
“He was a boomer, and he was very political and sometimes made off-color jokes … but nothing that indicated it was a threat,” said Travis Lee Clark, a member of Robertson’s community. He added that he hadn’t seen Robertson’s Facebook posts until after his death. He also said Robertson owned a collection of around 20 guns, but noted that that wasn’t unusual for the area.
The arrest of Robertson had been prompted by a tip related to his threats against Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, which had been posted on former President Donald Trump’s social media platform, Truth Social.
Court documents say that two FBI agents had previously visited Roberston in his house in March. They found the man wearing a Trump cap and an “AR-15 style rifle lapel pin,” as it was described in a search warrant.
“Hey FBI, you still monitoring my social media? Checking so I can have a loaded gun handy in case you drop by again,” documents cited an undated social media post from Robertson following the visit.
SITE Intelligence Group, a for-profit consultancy group that tracks online extremism, found a July 21 post from Robertson that read: “If I really told you what I’d like to do to Joe Biden Facebook would censor me and the FBI would pay me another visit.”
The incident occurred as President Biden was on his way to Utah for an official visit to a Veterans Affairs hospital in Salt Lake City. His trip aimed to discuss the PACT Act, the legislation expanding veterans’ benefits, and to hold a reelection fundraiser. A White House official confirmed that President Biden was briefed on the situation following the raid.
The case has also rekindled debates surrounding the rhetoric targeting law enforcement, with Republicans facing criticism for their recent escalation of attacks on the FBI.
The shooting is currently under review by the FBI, and no other details have been released following the incident.
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