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Man charged in threats to Human Rights Campaign after Nashville shooting

A Maryland man has been charged with making threats of violence to the D.C.-based LGBTQ organization in a March 28 voice mail

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A Maryland man has been charged by federal authorities with making threats of violence to a D.C.-based LGBTQ organization in a voice mail left on March 28, a day after the mass killing at a school in Nashville.

Since the shooting, which left six people dead, conservative commentators and Republican politicians have exploited reports over the shooter’s gender identity as a way to stoke anti-trans sentiments. The voice mail left for the Human Rights Campaign, which federal authorities said was traced to 34-year-old Adam Michael Nettina, of West Friendship, Md., echoed that rhetoric.

Nashville police initially said the shooter, Audrey Hale, who was killed by police during the incident, was a 28-year-old woman, and later said Hale was transgender, citing a social media profile in which Hale used masculine pronouns. The Washington Post has not yet confirmed how Hale identified.

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In the threatening message to the Human Rights Campaign, the caller made a number of statements that federal authorities said they believed were in reference to the Nashville shooting and the shooter’s gender identity, according to court documents.

“You guys going to shoot up our schools now?” the caller said, according to court documents. “Is that how it’s going to be? You just gonna to kill little kids.”

The caller went on: “Let me tell you something, we’re waiting, we’re waiting. And if you want a war, we’ll have a war.”

Some threats, laden with profanity, made reference to specific acts of violence: “We’ll cut your throats. We’ll put a bullet in your head. ... You’re going to kill us? We’re going to kill you 10 times more in full.”

The call came in at 11:21 p.m. on March 28 to the Human Rights Campaign, according to court documents, and was later reported to authorities. The phone number from which the call was allegedly placed was eventually traced to Nettina, and an analysis of his social media posts revealed he appeared to own an AKM semiautomatic rifle, authorities allege.

Federal authorities filed a criminal complaint against Nettina on Friday, and he was arrested later that evening, according to a news release from the U.S. attorney’s office for the District of Maryland. Nettina appeared in U.S. District Court in Baltimore on Monday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Matthew J. Maddox, who ordered he be detained pending a detention hearing on Friday.

It was not clear Tuesday night if Nettina had retained an attorney. Nettina’s family could not be immediately reached.

If convicted, Nettina could face up to five years in federal prison.

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Human Rights Campaign spokesperson Elizabeth Bibi said in a statement that the organization received two threatening voice mails late last month and that it is “grateful to law enforcement for acting so quickly to keep our community safe.”

“The LGBTQ+ community is under attack in statehouses across the country and on social media platforms. This violent, hateful rhetoric leads to stigma, and stigma leads to physical violence,” Bibi said in the statement. “As we see radical politicians sow hate and fear with anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric, we have seen the physical threats to our community multiply — from armed men at Pride parades, to threats of violence against local drag shows at libraries, to bomb threats at children’s hospitals, to the continued rise in fatal violence against members of our community, especially Black transgender women.”

As reported in The Washington Post, transgender people are rarely the perpetrators of mass killings, which are overwhelmingly carried out by cisgender men, according to criminal justice experts. Trans people are more likely to be victims of violence than cisgender people, multiple studies have shown.

News researcher Magda Jean-Louis contributed to this report.