TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A man accused of murdering two people in Alaska was charged with threatening a Florida sheriff who condemned antisemitic activity in his county.
On Tuesday, a federal grand jury in Anchorage indicted Joshua Wahl, 31, for making online threats against Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood.
Chitwood made headlines when he spoke out against neo-Nazis earlier this year in response to an uptick in hate flyers and other racist imagery around the area. This resulted in a slew of threats made against Chitwood on websites like 4chan, a collection of unmoderated, “anonymous” message boards, often containing antisemitic and racist content.
According to an indictment obtained by Anchorage Daily News, Wahl began posting antisemitic content on 4chan in 2019, including death threats and an image of a bomb. Wahl was accused of posting videos showing himself and others using lasers to blind police, according to the indictment, which has since been sealed.
Wahl was accused of emailing threats to Chitwood, starting March 31. According to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Wahl’s emails claimed he owned lasers and explosives and included videos “showing someone using a laser to burn a hole through a photograph of Chitwood’s face and holding explosives in front of another photograph of Chitwood.”
According to the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office, the emails contained a “direct threats to ‘bind and kill'” the sheriff.
Wahl was charged with cyberstalking and four counts of transmitting threats in interstate commerce. He faces a maximum of five years in prison for each charge, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
“Not every loser threatening violence on the Internet gets caught, but I’m glad one more is getting a dose of reality,” Chitwood wrote in a statement. “I am far from the only one getting death threats, and my family is not the only one who’s been targeted and harassed. But I will always be proud to take on hateful idiots and stand up in defense of the community I love.”
The new charges come after Wahl was indicted on two counts of murder last month. According to Anchorage Daily News, Wahl was accused of killing Jennifer Gardiner, 32, and Timothy Evans, 31, and leaving “a distinctive weapon” at the scene, which investigators tied to his online activity.
Rex Butler, attorney representing Wahl in that case, told Anchorage Daily News that Wahl was friends with the victims and claimed he was at a store at the time of the murders. Butler said the gun found at the scene belonged to either Gardiner or Evans. He is not representing Wahl in the federal case.
Wahl is the latest in a line of what Chitwood calls “scumbags” and “losers” arrested for alleged online threats against him. The sheriff appeared at the airport earlier this year to greet an extradited New Jersey man accused of threatening to put a bullet in his head.