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LA Man Arrested For Allegedly Threatening To Shoot Boston Globe Journalists

The front page of the Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018 edition of the Boston Globe newspaper reads "Journalists are Not the Enemy" as it sits for sale at Out of Town News on August 16, 2018 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. (Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images)
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By Mike Roe and Annie Gilbertson

An Encino man was arrested this morning after alleged threats to kill journalists at the Boston Globe. Robert Chain allegedly started making threatening calls to the Globe's newsroom earlier this month after the newspaper coordinated a slew of nationwide editorials responding to President Trump's comments that journalists were "the enemy of the people."

Chain reportedly threatened to kill the paper's employees and echoed the president's comments, calling the Globe "the enemy of the people."

On the day the Globe's editorial came out in print, someone called the newspaper and threatened to shoot journalists in the head "later today, at 4 o'clock."

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"Anyone, regardless of political affiliation, who puts others in fear for their lives will be prosecuted by this office," U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said in a statement. "In a time of increasing political polarization, and amid the increasing incidence of mass shootings, members of the public must police their own political rhetoric -- or we will."

There were 14 calls to the Globe between Aug. 10 and Aug. 22 connected with Chain, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. He was identified through phone records.

On the day of the editorial's print publication, this is what was said in one of the threatening calls, according to a transcript from the FBI:

"You're the enemy of the people, and we're going to kill every f---ing one of you. Hey, why don't you call the F (sic), why don't you call Mueller, maybe he can help you out buddy. Still there, f-----? Alright, why, you going to trace my call? What are you going to do motherf-----? You ain't going to do s---. I'm going to shoot you in the motherf---ing head later today, at 4 o'clock. Goodbye."

Several of the calls included threats to shoot Globe employees in the head, along with profanity and both sexual and homophobic references. Chain owns several firearms, including a new 9mm carbine rifle purchased in May 2018, according to the FBI.

Globe employees felt threatened and scared, according to the FBI. Local law enforcement maintained a presence outside the building to make sure Globe staffers were safe, with the Globe also contracting private security.

During a call on Aug. 22, when asked why he was making the calls, the caller said, "Because you are the enemy of the people. ... As long as you keep attacking the president, the duly elected president of the United States, in the continuation of your treasonous and seditious acts, I will continue to threats (sic), harass, and annoy the Boston Globe, owned by the New York Times, the other fake news."

"Everyone has a right to express their opinion, but threatening to kill people, takes it over the line and will not be tolerated," the FBI's Harold Shaw said in a statement. "Making threats is not a prank, it's a federal crime. All threats are taken seriously as we never know if the subject behind the threat intends to follow through with their actions."

Paul Gillespies, a survivor of the recent shooting at the Capital Gazette newsroom in Annapolis, tweeted his thoughts on the arrest:

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Chain faces up to a five-year sentence and a fine of $250,000. He appeared in a federal courtroom full of reporters in downtown L.A. Thursday in a blue T-shirt, mustache and a magenta mullet that hung past his shoulders, his eyes heavy. His wife also sat in the courtroom.

At issue was whether he should remain in custody. The federal prosecutor said he should. When agents searched Chain's home in Encino, prosecutors said they found 20 firearms, with weapons on display throughout, including military grade canisters. Guns were also hidden - one in a sock drawer.

"He and his wife have a 2nd amendment right," said Andre Townsend, deputy federal public defender.

The defense questioned the logic of the theoretical danger, since all guns had been seized.

Judge Paul Abrams asked if federal agents had found anything that indicated travel plans to Boston, such as plane tickets. The prosecutor didn't know of any.

"I don't think it's appropriate to keep him in custody," Abrams said.

Chain is out on $50,000 bond and must surrender his passport. And the judge said if any guns are left to "get rid of it."

But the judge allowed for potential travel to Wyoming. Chain, retired from international sales and trade, has a home there and asked to attend a scheduled family trip. He still must receive permission before he leaves.

Chain will be traveling to Boston for his next hearing. While there, he isn't allowed within 500 feet of the Boston Globe.

The Los Angeles Times did not participate in the editorial page protest, not because it disagreed with the concept but because it wanted to maintain its editorial independence, they wrote.

On Aug. 22, the Associated Press also received a phone threat with the caller saying, "at some point we're just gonna start shooting you f---ing a-------," the AP's Amanda Lee Myers tweeted.

NOTE: The court document below contains graphic language and profanity. LAist redacted the home address of the man alleged to have made the threats.

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