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New York Man Charged with Threatening to Kill Four Cable News Broadcasters and High-Level Politicians


Federal prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York on Friday announced charges against a man they say threatened to kill four cable news broadcasters and several high-profile politicians.

The man, Rickey Johnson, also known as Nigel Dawn Defarren, is charged with making threatening interstate communications and threatening United States officials, according to a criminal complaint.

The names of the broadcasters and the politicians Johnson allegedly threatened are redacted.  The politicians Johnson allegedly threatened include “a United States Senator, a member of the United States House of Representatives, a former Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, and a governor,” the DOJ’s press release said.

Here’s some of the online communications Johnson is accused of sending to a cable broadcaster on Jan. 30:

you will all be held accountable

you do not belong on television

you want a trash government that is now the leading cause of death in america to continue to kill americans


you will be killed

tell [first name of Broadcaster-2] and [first name of Broadcaster-3], and can not find their pages

they will be killed as well

Elsewhere, on Feb. 4:

[Referring to Senator-1] He’s dead, he is fucking dead. . . . [Senator-1] will be executed. . . . I’m killin’ they ass, you think I’m jokin’, and you gonna know I fuckin’ did it.

[ . . . ]

[To Broadcaster-2:] You’re dead, I’m gonna kill you. . . . I am going to take your life, I’m going to tell you before I do it like I am doing right now, but I’m going to look you in your fucking eye and I’m gonna take your fuckin’ life, and everyone that knows I took your life is gonna know why.

Furthermore, also on Feb. 4:

[To Representative-1:] Ma’am, you are dead. Make sure we understand one another. You are dead. . . . Smile. I am going to kill you.

[ . . . ]

[Broadcaster-4], you should stop, but you’re not because you’re paid to kill people. [Broadcaster-4], you will be killed. I want you dead. You are a racist domestic terrorist.

[ . . . ]

[Governor-1] will be executed. I don’t care about what [Governor-1] thinks. [Governor-1] is a domestic terrorist. [Governor-1] will be killed in the name of the United States Constitution.

Here’s even more from Feb. 4:

I want this white woman dead. I want [Broadcaster-4] dead. I want [Broadcaster-4] murdered. . . . [Broadcaster-4], I am going to personally kill you. . . . I am going to kill you.

[ . . . ]

[To Former Speaker-1:] I am going to kill you. I’m gonna kill all of you. . . . You’re going to have an opportunity to speak before I kill you. You all don’t think I can kill you. . . . I’m going to use the constitution on all of you. I’m going to kill all of you, and everyone’s going to know it.

[ . . . ]

[Broadcaster-4], I am going to kill you with my bare hands. It’s not insane, it’s an American. And you’re an enemy to the American society. [Former Speaker-1], I am going to take your life.

[ . . . ]

I am going to kill all of you fucking terrorists. Every fucking one of you. I’m going to kill you. . . . What I recommend you all do, Miss [Broadcaster-4] and [Former Speaker-1], is get your fucking coin together and kill me, because I’m telling you, I’m coming to kill all of you.

Johnson faces a maximum sentence of five years if he’s convicted of making threatening interstate communications.  He faces a maximum of ten years if he’s convicted of threatening United States officials.

The complaint says Johnson transmitted the messages via Instagram and, to a lesser degree, Facebook.

“Rickey Johnson allegedly threatened to kill several cable news broadcasters and current and former U.S. Senators and members of the House in rage-fueled posts on Instagram and in chilling private messages,” said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss. “Among the many great freedoms Americans enjoy is the right to engage in political discourse, and disagreements are natural and healthy; but when invective metastasizes into threats of harm or even death, law enforcement will act swiftly to bring the person responsible to justice.”

“Rickey Johnson, as alleged in this federal complaint, took aim at the foundations of our shared democracy and way of life, threatening not only elected United States officials but several working journalists,” said NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea.

[Photo by MICHAEL REYNOLDS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images]

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Aaron Keller holds a juris doctor degree from the University of New Hampshire School of Law and a broadcast journalism degree from Syracuse University. He is a former anchor and executive producer for the Law&Crime Network and is now deputy editor-in-chief for the Law&Crime website. DISCLAIMER:  This website is for general informational purposes only. You should not rely on it for legal advice. Reading this site or interacting with the author via this site does not create an attorney-client relationship. This website is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney. Speak to a competent lawyer in your jurisdiction for legal advice and representation relevant to your situation.