Long Island Man Charged with Mailing Threatening Letters to LGBTQ+ Affiliated Individuals and Organizations
Defendant Allegedly Threatened Bombings and Mass Shooting That Would Make the 2016 Orlando Pulse Nightclub Attack “Look Like a Cakewalk”
A criminal complaint was unsealed today in federal court in Central Islip charging Robert Fehring with mailing letters threatening to assault, shoot, and bomb LGBTQ+ affiliated individuals, organizations, and businesses. Fehring was arrested this morning and will make his initial appearance this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Steven I. Locke.
Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Michael J. Driscoll, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), announced the arrest.
“As alleged, the defendant's hate-filled invective and threats of violence directed at members of the LGBTQ+ community have no place in our society and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," stated United States Attorney Peace. “This Office is firmly committed to protecting the civil rights of all members of every community in this district, including the LGBTQ+ community and other minority communities.” Mr. Peace thanked the Suffolk County Police Department for their invaluable assistance with the investigation.
“Fehring’s alleged threats to members of the LGBTQ+ community were not only appalling, but dangerous, despite the fact he hadn’t yet acted on his purported intentions,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Driscoll. “As the primary federal agency responsible for investigating civil rights violations, the FBI takes all threats of this nature seriously. If you or someone you know has received a similar threat, report it to us by calling 1-800-CALLFBI. In an emergency, always call your local police department.”
As set forth in the complaint, since at least 2013, Fehring has been sending individuals associated with the LGBTQ+ community letters in which he threatened violence, including threatening the use of firearms and explosives. One letter threatened that there would “be radio-cont[r]olled devices placed at numerous strategic places” at the 2021 New York City Pride March with “firepower” that would “make the 2016 Orlando Pulse Nightclub shooting look like a cakewalk,” referencing the 2016 attack in which 49 persons were killed and dozens wounded at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
Fehring is also alleged to have a sent a letter threatening the organizer of a June 2021 Pride event in East Meadow, New York, which stated:
“[W]e were right there you…FREAK!!! They couldn’t get a shot off at you, slithering around the back stage area like a snake. Too many cops. Very disappointed. But your time has come. . .. They are out to KILL you….and your boyfriend. You are being watched. No matter how long it takes, you will be taken out…. high-powered bullet…. bomb….knife…. whatever it takes.”
On November 18, 2021, members of the FBI’s Civil Rights Squad and the New York Joint Terrorism Task Force executed a search warrant at Fehring’s home in Bayport, New York, and recovered photographs from a June 2021 Pride event in East Meadow, New York, two loaded shotguns, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, two stun guns, and a stamped envelope addressed to an LGBTQ+ affiliated attorney containing the remains of a dead bird.
The charge in the complaint is an allegation and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s National Security and Cybercrime Section, Long Island Criminal Division and Civil Rights Section. Assistant United States Attorneys Francisco J. Navarro, Rachel A. Shanies, and Andrew P. Wenzel are in charge of the prosecution.
Bayport, New York
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 21-MJ-1363