Alleged threat to lynch Rep. Frederica Wilson prompts federal probe

Authorities are investigating whether a onetime local hero in Illinois has threatened in a Facebook post to lynch U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson.

The Facebook post requested "ten good men to help carry out a lynching" and said they "must have own horse and saddle. Rope will be provided,"according to the Chicago Tribune.

A screenshot of the posting, taken on an iPhone, reportedly showed that it was made by Tom Keevers, 54, of Des Plaines, Ill. The screenshot circulated widely on social media throughout the weekend.

Keevers told the Tribune he had been arguing on Facebook that Wilson was “using the death of an American soldier for politics."

Wilson, a Florida Democrat, has been embroiled in a bitter fight with President Donald Trump and White House officials after she criticized the president's phone call to a military widow.

According to the Tribune, Keevers said the Facebook post was “a joke, as I read it" and claimed he "cannot remember" whether he had made the lynching threat. 

“I don’t have 10 horses either,” Keevers told the Tribune. “Don’t people get in arguments on Facebook all the time?”

Keevers eventually gave the Tribune an unequivocal denial, saying he "did not use those words" and suggesting that someone might have altered his comment to create an Internet "meme."

The Capitol Police and the FBI have taken over the investigation of the case, ABC News reported. Making threats against government officials, including members of Congress, is a federal crime.

Keevers had previously been featured in the Tribune in 2003, when he helped capture a suspect in a bank robbery.