DENVER (AP/CBS4) – A man suspected of threatening a Democratic state lawmaker has been suspended by the company in which he is the chief operating officer.
Franklin Sain, 42, was arrested Friday on suspicion of harassment and attempting to influence a public official, said police spokeswoman Raquel Lopez. Sain is suspected of sending emails and leaving a voicemail for Aurora Rep. Rhonda Fields.
Fields is sponsoring bills to expand background checks for firearm purchases and limit the size of ammunition magazines. She is also the representative of the district where last summer’s theater shooting occurred.
According to an arrest affidavit obtained by CBS4, the emails were laced with obscenities and racial slurs. The threats were all anonymous, but investigators were able to trace one of the phone calls to Sain’s home.
“The kinds of tone and the threats in the emails, they were very racial, they were very harassing, and they were threatening,” Fields said on Tuesday.
Sain is chief operating officer of Englewood-based SofTec Solutions, a technology services consulting firm. He says he is not a racist and was “just voicing his frustration about a sacred topic.”
SofTec Solutions suspended Sain on Tuesday and issued a statement.
“We are shocked to learn of these allegations and are taking this matter very seriously. If true, these actions are highly inappropriate and will not be tolerated,” the company said in the statement. “Pending SofTec’s investigation into this matter, Mr. Sain has been suspended immediately from further duties at SofTec.”
The company went on to say it is a “minority-owned, small business and we employ a large diverse workforce. We will absolutely not tolerate any racial, sexual, gender-based slurs or threats of violence by employees.”
According to the affidavit, Sain not only threatened Fields’ life, but also her daughter’s.
“Death to both. (Expletive) you … (expletive) your laws. I keep my 30-round magazines. There will be blood. I’m coming for you (expletive),” one email read.
Sain was released on $30,000 bail. He is scheduled to appear in Denver court March 8 to hear what charges he could face, said sheriff’s Capt. Frank Gale.
“This is someone who’s well established in a high organizational structure in company, and for him to be using that kind of derogatory language shows that he has no respect for diversity,” Fields said.
The Colorado State Patrol said it is providing extra security for Fields, who has been one of the Democrats leading the push for more restrictions on access to firearms. Besides representing the district that was the site of the theater shooting in which 12 people were killed, Fields is also known for her losing her son, Javad Fields, who was gunned down with his fiance, Vivian Wolfe, in 2005 before she became a legislator.
“I will not be deterred by threats,” Fields said in a statement in which she thanked Denver police and the state patrol.
On Tuesday CBS4’s Rick Sallinger asked Fields if she was afraid for her life.
“Yes, I’m still very afraid,” she responded.
The Colorado House passed four gun measures last week, including the two that Fields sponsored. One requires background checks on all firearm purchases, including those conducted online and between private sellers. Another bill would limit the size of ammunition magazines to 15 rounds for firearms and eight for shotguns.
The measures will be heard in the Democrat-controlled Senate next week.
“It’s OK to disagree with legislators. It’s OK to express your opinion,” said Senate President John Morse. “But we’re protected by the same public safety measures as everybody else. It’s not ever OK to threaten someone.”
Morse said other Democrats in his chamber have also received threats, but none rose to the level of what Fields received.
“It is fascinating that Rep. Fields is just trying to do the best she can for the people of Colorado, and to keep Colorado children safe by limiting gun violence; and it’s met with more violence,” Morse told CBS4. “It is just appalling.”
Democratic House Speaker Mark Ferrandino previously said some in his chamber also reported threats, but none has triggered an investigation. He said he doesn’t know how many lawmakers have received threats.
“We always get a lot of, I would say not the nicest emails, not the nicest letters, but when it rises to a threat that becomes something very serious,” Ferrandino said.
Ferrandino told CBS4 lawmakers won’t be intimidated.
“We will continue as a House of Representatives debating the issues important to Colorado,” he said. “We will have vigorous debate, but we will continue to do that and make sure safety for the members of this general assembly is paramount.”
Morse said the debate over gun control has escalated poor behavior.
“Recently, even at town halls, they’ve been escorted to their cars by law enforcement officers because of the activity,” Morse said.
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