DENVER (AP) – A federal judge said Monday that a military veteran accused of posting online threats against police officers can be released from jail on bond, but he can’t have access to computers or the Internet.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Boyd Boland set bail at $25,000 for Jeremiah M. Perez, 33, over the objections of a prosecutor who said his vitriolic posts on social media should constitute an imminent threat because they came amid heightened concern about attacks on police across the country.
Court documents say Perez, of Colorado Springs, posted on social media sites under the name “Vets Hunting Cops,” calling for the killings of current and former police officers. He wrote that “our group” has killed six retired sheriffs and police officers since a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed, black 18-year-old in Ferguson, Missouri. He said they would “hunt” two more in Colorado.
He was arrested last week after Google tipped the FBI because it considered the threat serious.
But Boland said Perez lacked the means to carry out a threat. He ordered Perez released to a halfway house when a bed for him becomes available.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Judith Smith said authorities found no firearms in Perez’s home but did find a hatchet near his bedroom.
“Not only is it a direct threat to kill cops in Colorado … it incites others to do so,” Smith said. She referenced the killings of two New York City police officers earlier this month, though Perez’s writings were unrelated.
She noted that an investigation of Perez’s computer also found that he had searched the Internet for information on how to kill a variety of public figures and politicians, including President Barack Obama, Fox News pundits and Republican Rep. Cory Gardner of Colorado. Google asked Perez to stop posting in April but he refused, Smith said.
Perez told authorities he only intended to scare police but did not plan to follow through with the violence, according to court documents. He said his father was a police officer and he had some bad experiences growing up around law enforcement.
Perez cooperated with authorities investigating him, logging into his online accounts for investigators so they could see with whom he was interacting, his public defender, Brian Leedy, said. Leedy said Perez is an Air Force veteran who was discharged due to knee and shoulder problems.
– By Sadie Gurman, AP Writer
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