SEATTLE – SEATTLE (AP) — The sister of the Washington state man charged with threatening to kill Democratic Sen. Patty Murray over her support for health care reform said her brother has no history of intimidation.
Helen Evans was at the federal court in Yakima, Wash., Tuesday when 63-year-old Charles Alan Wilson made his first court appearance, hours after being arrested without incident by FBI agents.
Federal prosecutors allege that Wilson left several voicemails laden with expletives, some which included threats to Murray, between March 22 and April 4. He was charged with one count of Threatening a Federal Official.
"Obviously, my brother crossed over a line, if this is true," the 60-year-old Evans said. "But also, what can I believe when I read it? I'm not going to judge or make any assessments until I talk to him."
Murray's office had told the FBI it had been receiving harassing messages from a caller for months, but they became more threatening as Congress was voting on the health care legislation.
The report of the threats from Murray's office came amid a rash of ugliness aimed at lawmakers who supported the sweeping federal health care legislation. Some lawmakers have been spit on and several have reported receiving threatening calls.
FBI spokesman Bill Carter said Wilson is believed to be the first person in the country arrested for such threats.
The messages to Murray were left on voicemail from a blocked telephone number, FBI Special Agent Carolyn W. Woodbury wrote in a probable cause statement. Agents said they traced the calls to Wilson's home in Selah, near Yakima.
To confirm Wilson was the caller, one agent telephoned him and posed as a member of a group working to repeal the health care legislation, the statement said.
According to an excerpt of the conversation, Wilson confirmed he repeatedly called Murray as well as Washington's other Democratic senator, Maria Cantwell. He then stated: "I do pack, and I will not blink when I'm confronted. ... It's not a threat, it's a guarantee."
Wilson has a .38-caliber revolver registered to him and has a concealed weapons permit, Woodbury wrote in the probable cause statement.
"There's a target on your back now," said one message on March 22. "It only takes one piece of lead. Kill the (expletive) senator! ... Now that you've passed your health care bill, let the violence begin."
In other rambling messages over the next several days, the caller said, "I hope somebody puts a (expletive) bullet between your (expletive) eyes," and "I do believe that every one of you (expletive) socialist democratic progressive (expletive) need to be taken out."
And, he said, "I want to (expletive) kill you."
Murray declined to comment on the case but told reporters outside an event in Seattle on Tuesday that she feels safe.
"Health care reform and health care is very personal," Murray said. "As gradually this goes into effect, people will start to say, 'Wow, I didn't know that was going to help me.' Even those who are opposed and angry today, this bill helps them."
Wilson will be held pending a detention hearing Friday in Yakima, said U.S. attorney's spokeswoman Emily Langlie in Seattle. A judge will decide whether there are conditions under which he can be released pending his initial Seattle court appearance.
Langlie didn't know when that Seattle appearance would take place.
AP writer Devlin Barrett contributed from Washington, D.C.; Shannon Dininny contributed from Yakima; and Manuel Valdes contributed from Seattle.