Feds indict Boardman teen for threats
By Joe Gorman
A Boardman teen who has been held on a federal complaint for threatening to shoot federal law-enforcement authorities was indicted Wednesday by a grand jury in the U.S. Northern District Court of Ohio.
Justin Olsen, 18, is indicted on charges of making threats against federal law enforcement and making interstate threats. The first count carries a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. The interstate threats charge carries a statutory maximum of five years.
Olsen has been held in the Mahoning County jail since he was arrested earlier this month by Boardman Township police who served a search warrant at the separate homes of his parents after being informed of a threat Olsen made on the internet to shoot FBI agents.
The case was later transferred to the U.S. Attorneys Office for the Northern District Of Ohio.
“Protecting citizens’ freedom of speech is a main priority for the FBI, but when you call for the killing of federal officers, you have crossed the line,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Eric B. Smith in a news release. “The FBI will continue to work with our law-enforcement partners to assess and disrupt threats of physical harm to any citizen. Law enforcement encourages the public to report suspicious online or in-person behavior – see something, say something.”
U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman added: “Anyone who threatens those same law-enforcement agents is committing a crime, not engaging in some form of protected speech. When those threats are made, especially where someone possesses the means to act on those threats, we take it seriously and will seek criminal charges.”
Since February, Olsen had “discussed supporting mass shootings and assault and/or targeting of Planned Parenthood” online under the username ArmyOfChrist on the popular internet meme site iFunny.com, where he had about 4,400 subscribers, according to an affidavit in the case.
In a post dated June 2, Olsen discussed the 1993 federal siege of the Branch Davidians compound in Waco, Texas, when he said federal agents “slaughtered families” and concluded with “shoot every federal agent on-sight,” officers allege.
Local police were first informed of the posts by the FBI office in Anchorage, Alaska. Olsen was arrested Aug. 7 after Boardman police and the Mahoning Valley Law Enforcement Task Force served the search warrants.
At his father’s home, authorities found 26 guns in a gun safe and 10,000 rounds of ammunition. The weapons belonged to Olsen’s father, but they were seized because the warrant allowed for the seizure of any weapons found. Olsen had claimed he was joking when questioned by law-enforcement personnel.
Olsen is the second young man from Mahoning County to be arrested for threats on the internet. Saturday, New Middletown police arrested James Reardon, 20, after serving a search warrant at his Eastwood Drive home and finding several weapons there.
The warrant was served after police were tipped to internet posts by Reardon where authorities say he threatened to shoot up the Jewish Community Center.
In Chicago, a 19-year-old man who authorities said in a federal complaint threatened to shoot up an abortion clinic also referenced Olsen’s screen name, ArmyOfChrist.
An FBI agent in Chicago wrote that Farhan Shiekh referenced the ArmyOfChrist user name used by Olsen, and they both used the same app, iFunny, when making their threats.
The post by Shiekh referenced Olsen’s account and said “he was arrested for no reason except for suppressing our freedoms.” A criminal complaint said that Shiekh admitted following the ArmyOfChrist account.
FBI agents served a search warrant Aug. 16 in Chicago after the abortion clinic post they say was made by Shiekh. He is being held in detention in Chicago.