FBI Arrests Oklahoma Teabagger For Twitter Threats
An Oklahoma City man who announced on Twitter that he would turn an April 15 tax protest into a bloodbath was hit with a federal charge of making interstate threats last week, in what appears to be first criminal prosecution to stem from posts on the microblogging site.
Daniel Knight Hayden, 52, was arrested by FBI agents who identified him as the Twitter user CitizenQuasar. In a series of tweets beginning April 11, CitizenQuasar vowed to start a “war” against the government on the steps of the Oklahoma City Capitol building, the site of that city’s version of the national “Tea Party” protests promoted by the conservative-leaning Fox News.
“START THE KILLING NOW! I am willing to be the FIRST DEATH!,” read a tweet at 8:01 PM that day. “After I am killed on the Capitol Steps, like a REAL man, the rest of you will REMEMBER ME!!!,” he added five minutes later. Then: “Send the cops around. I will cut their heads off the heads and throw the[m] on the State Capitol steps.”
Hayden’s MySpace page is a breathtaking gallery of right wing memes about the “New World Order,” gun control as Nazi fascism, and Barack Obama’s covert use of television hypnosis, among many others.
In addition to the threats, many of Hayden’s tweets fixated on another Oklahoma City man whom he erroneously believed was in charge of the city’s tea party demonstration.
“He seemed to know stuff about me, but I don’t know how or why,” says Earl Shaffer. “He called me a few days before that tea party and let me know somehow he got my name as one of the organizers. I don’t have the energy.”
Shaffer told Hayden that he wasn’t a tea party organizer, but Hayden continued to tweet baffling messages about the 58-year-old retiree, posting his phone number in one.
Hayden’s penultimate tweet at 12:49 AM on April 15 returned to the subject of his martyrdom. “Locked AND loaded for the Oklahoma State Capitol. Let’s see what happens.”
The FBI arrested (.pdf) him at his home later that day, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Oklahoma City, which otherwise declined to comment on the case.
Despite the odd phone call from Hayden, Shaffer planned on joining the tea party himself. He was headed there when he spotted what turned out to be FBI agents watching him from their car around the corner. Like a real Oklahoman, he confronted the feds, who advised him that he could be arrested if he went to the demonstration.
“They asked if I knew [Hayden], and I told them no,” he says. “They asked me questions about how I heard about the tea party, and I told them I heard about it through that talk show host Glenn Beck.”
Hayden was arraigned on the 16th, and ordered released to a halfway house pending trial — a move that suggests the magistrate judge does not consider him a genuine threat. Hayden’s attorney declined to comment. California-based Twitter did not respond to an inquiry by Threat Level.
By Kevin Poulsen