US FBI arrests Colorado man over online threats to kill police officers

DENVER (Reuters) - FBI agents arrested a Colorado man who posted online threats advocating the killing of police officers after investigators received a tip about one of the messages from Google, prosecutors said on Tuesday.

Jeremiah Perez, 33, was detained without incident at his home in Colorado Springs on Monday and faces up to five years in federal prison if convicted, the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Colorado said in a statement. It said Google urgently contacted the FBI's San Francisco office on Dec 17 to report a comment on a YouTube video from someone going by the username Vets Hunting Cops.

Referring to a white police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black teenager in Missouri in August, the message read in part: "SINCE DARREN WILSON our group has killed 6 retired sheriffs and cops ... because of this event we will hunt two more in colorado this week ... for every innocent citizen that cops kill WE, VETERANS WILL KILL RETIRED HELPLESS COPS."

The FBI tracked the user's profile to an address in Colorado Springs, and on Monday its agents contacted Perez there. "At that time they determined that he knew that law enforcement officers would see the post and his intent was for them to be fearful after reading it," the US Attorney's Office said in its statement. "He was then arrested."

Two New York City police officers were shot and killed as they sat in their patrol car on Saturday in an attack that commanders dubbed an assassination and which has left police forces around the country on edge.

According to an FBI arrest warrant affidavit, Perez served in the US armed forces. It said he told agents his father was a police officer employed by the US Air Force, and that he had "bad experiences" growing up around law enforcement.

Perez told investigators he has had some problems with police officers in the past, and he "described an incident where he believed he was treated differently because of his Latino heritage", the affidavit said.

US Attorney John Walsh said anyone who threatened to kill police officers, or who incited others to kill them, should expect "some very serious attention" from the authorities.

"The perceived anonymity of the Internet will not serve as a shield for espousing violence," said FBI Denver Special Agent in Charge Thomas Ravenelle.

Perez has a preliminary hearing scheduled on Dec 29.

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