A New York man was convicted on Friday for threatening to murder moderate Democratic U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin and Fox News hosts Greg Gutfeld and Laura Ingraham in 2021.
A jury found Rickey Johnson of New York City guilty of two counts of transmitting threatening interstate communications and one count of threatening a federal official. He now faces up to 20 years in prison for his threats, which were issued over social media in January 2021.
According to prosecutors, Johnson sent “direct private messages” to Gutfeld, saying “you will be killed.” He followed that up by posting public videos in which he threatened to murder Manchin, Gutfeld, and Ingraham.
Among other threats, Johnson said Manchin was “dead” and would be “executed.” He also stated to Gutfeld that he was “going to take [his] life,” and declared he would “kill” Ingraham with his “bare hands.”
In a statement, U.S. Attorney Damian Williams noted, “Rather than express his political differences constructively, Rickey Johnson escalated his discord by instilling fear. Johnson’s attempts to scare and stifle a U.S. Senator and two Fox News hosts were federal crimes for which he has now been convicted by a New York jury.”
The website Law & Crime noted that Audrey Strauss, Williams’ predecessor, said in filing the case that Johnson had threatened “several” cable news broadcasters as well as current and former federal lawmakers.
“Among the many great freedoms Americans enjoy is the right to engage in political discourse, and disagreements are natural and healthy; but when invective metastasizes into threats of harm or even death, law enforcement will act swiftly to bring the person responsible to justice,” Strauss said at the time.
According to court records, Johnson said in a video directed at the three victims, “You all kill police officers. Donald Trump supporters kill police officers. […] You don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m gonna kill you.”
Then, in referring to Gutfeld and Ingraham, he added, “I’m killing all of you all.” “Make sure we’re clear,” he said, “I am speaking to you on my Instagram live, I am going to kill you all.”
Johnson will be sentenced in May.