A man accused of threatening violence against New York City's Pride celebration and other LGBTQ+ spaces and events has pleaded guilty.
Robert Fehring, 74, of Bayport, N.Y., pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court on Long Island, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York. He admitted to Judge Joanna Seybert that he mailed more than 20 letters threatening to assault, shoot, and bomb LGBTQ+ individuals, organizations, and businesses.
His threats, as detailed by the U.S. Attorney's Office, include a letter sent to an organizer of the 2021 New York City Pride March, saying, "There will be radio-cont[r]olled devices placed at numerous strategic places, and firepower aimed at you from other strategic places" at the march. "This will make the 2016 Orlando Pulse Nightclub shooting look like a cakewalk," the letter continued. The Pulse shooting left 49 people dead and dozens wounded.
Another letter told the owner of a barbershop in Brooklyn, "Your shop is the perfect target for a bombing and/or graffiti and/or a shattered window front....or beating the scum that frequents your den of shit into a bloody pool of steaming flesh." Yet another went to a Pride organizer on Long Island, saying, "No matter how long it takes, you will be taken out.... high-powered bullet.... bomb....knife.... whatever it takes."
The FBI identified Fehring from DNA samples on envelopes, and members of the FBI's Civil Rights Squad and the New York Joint Terrorism Task Force searched his home in November. They recovered copies of numerous letters, two loaded shotguns, multiple rounds of ammunition, two stun guns, Pride flags that had apparently been stolen, a machete with an American flag pattern on it, a stamped envelope addressed to an LGBTQ+ rights lawyer that contained a dead bird, and a DVD titled Underground Build Your Own Silencer System. Fehring was arrested shortly afterward.
"This office will use all of its available law enforcement tools to protect the safety and civil rights of the LGBTQ+ community and every other community," Breon Peace, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said in the press release. "We will not tolerate hateful threats intended to invoke fear and division, and we will hold accountable those who make or act on such threats."
Fehring will be sentenced later. He faces up to five years in prison.