A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Bies was arrested Monday. He was arrested Friday. The article has been corrected.
“We the people cannot WAIT to water the trees of liberty with your blood,” Bies allegedly wrote in an Aug. 10 post. “I’ll be waiting for you to kick down my door.”
Bies was arrested late Friday, according to a Justice Department news release. He’s charged with threatening to assault or murder a federal law enforcement officer. Bies appeared Monday afternoon in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, and a federal judge scheduled a Thursday hearing to determine whether he should remain locked up as the case against him proceeds.
Court records do not list a lawyer for Bies. The federal prosecutor assigned to his case did not immediately return a request for comment from The Washington Post early Tuesday.
Bies’s arrest came days after FBI agents searched Mar-a-Lago Club on Aug. 8, sparking a firestorm among conservative politicians and commentators. As Trump supporters protested outside the resort that night, Fox News host Sean Hannity distilled many of their criticisms, denouncing the search as “a dark day for our republic, the Department of Justice, the rule of law,” The Post reported.
Hannity warned his viewers they could be next.
“Make no mistake,” the host said, “if you are associated with Donald Trump in any way, you better cross all your i’s and dot all your t’s, because they’re coming for you with the full force of the federal government.”
Stephen K. Bannon, a conservative podcaster and former Trump adviser, was more blunt, calling the FBI “the Gestapo.”
“We’re at war,” he said.
Such rhetoric led FBI Director Christopher A. Wray, who was appointed to the job by Trump in 2017, to denounce online threats against federal agents and the Justice Department as “deplorable and dangerous,” the Associated Press reported.
“I’m always concerned about threats to law enforcement,” Wray said. “Violence against law enforcement is not the answer, no matter who you’re upset with.”
A day later, Ricky Shiffer, a 42-year-old Iraq War veteran, allegedly tried to breach an FBI field office in Cincinnati and then engaged in an hours-long standoff with law enforcement that ended when he was killed in a shootout. Shiffer had attracted the FBI’s attention for engaging in possible extremist behavior in the months prior, but the information collected by agents “did not contain a specific and credible threat,” The Post reported.
An account in Shiffer’s name on Truth Social, Trump’s social media site, posted 374 messages in the eight days before the attack on the FBI office, many of them parroting Trump’s false claims about election fraud, according to The Post. After FBI agents searched Mar-a-Lago Club, Shiffer’s posts called for all-out war, urging people to “get whatever you need to be ready for combat.”
“Be ready to kill the enemy,” Shiffer allegedly posted two days before the standoff. “Kill [the FBI] on sight.”
A day after Shiffer was killed, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security released a joint intelligence announcement to their employees warning of “violent threats” against federal law enforcement, other government workers and official facilities, The Post reported.
In the memo, DOJ officials said their online surveillance found many people calling for “civil war” and “armed rebellion.”
On Monday, Fox News host Steve Doocy implored Trump to urge his supporters to “tamp down the rhetoric.”
“With all of these threats going around, it would ultimately be great if the former president, who has always been a great supporter of law enforcement … it would be great if he called for an end to the violent rhetoric against federal law enforcement and, in particular, the FBI,” Doocy said on “Fox & Friends.”
Like Shiffer, Bies was allegedly posting anti-FBI screeds in the days after the Mar-a-Lago search. Bies threatened FBI employees repeatedly — taunting them, calling them “scumbags” who “deserve a painful death,” the FBI agent wrote in the affidavit. On Aug. 10, Bies allegedly said that anyone “who works for the FBI in any capacity, from the director down to the janitor who cleans their … toilets deserves to die.”
“You’ve declared war on us and now it’s open season on YOU,” Bies wrote in the post, according to the affidavit.
The FBI agent who investigated Bies’s alleged threats said he tried to evade law enforcement by using a fake name online. In fact, Bies said as much in chat logs that Gab forked over to the FBI, explaining that he used an alias “so that corporate Murica’ can’t google me out of a job.”
The Gab records also included an IP address, which led the FBI to Bies’s home in Mercer, Pa.
In one of the posts that caught the FBI’s attention, Bies allegedly wrote that he had accepted what he believed was an “inevitable outcome” — he would die at the hands of the FBI.
“My only goal is to kill more of them before I drop,” he said, according to the affidavit. “I will not spend one second of my life in their custody.”
As of early Tuesday, he was locked up in a jail about 20 miles north of Pittsburgh.