SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A 75-year-old man shot by police who wanted to arrest him For social media threats he made against officials, including President Joe Biden, he had in the past “exercised his 2nd amendment rights, albeit a little recklessly,” according to Utah police records.
Craig Robertson was killed afterwards showing a revolver at FBI agents who flocked to his home in large numbers last Wednesday. Nearly five years earlier, he brought a handgun into his backyard in Provo, Utah, to ask Google Fiber employees working on a utility pole to connect a neighbor’s Wi-Fi to leave his property, according to a police incident report Provo, obtained by The Associated Press.
His history of carrying firearms when speaking to people near his home reflects the difficulties law enforcement can face in assessing threats when suspects are heavily armed.
Google Fiber employees told police officers that when they tried earlier to ring the doorbell to say they were working on the mast, no one answered. Robertson later came outside with a gun and accused them of trespassing, they told police.
“Robertson yelled at her, waving his gun around so the muzzle was pointed at her,” one officer wrote in the August 2018 incident report.
When police later arrived, Robertson opened the door with an AR-15 slung over his shoulder, resulting in what one officer described as “a kind of standoff.” Robertson denied to officers that he had pointed the gun at anyone.
“While speaking to Robertson while he had his rifle, I noticed that he had it handy to his body and had his finger on the trigger guard, leading me to believe he had firearms training and knew where he was “The muzzle was and how to control the gun during movement,” said the responding officer.
Officers consulted the local prosecutor, but no charges were filed.
The FBI tried to arrest Robertson last week in the run-up to Biden’s visit to Utah, where the president was delivering a speech at a Salt Lake City hospital about expanding benefits for veterans. In the indictment documents, authorities accused Robertson of making threats against Biden, senior Democrats and FBI agents, calling it an “assassination” and posting images of weapons, including long-range sniper rifles.
Although family members and neighbors said Robertson’s politics was no secret, they described him as an elderly, homebound man with physical disabilities, suggesting he posed no danger to anyone he had threatened online.
Unlike prosecutors, who presented his threats as credible, they said Robertson was credible a friendly church neighbor who modified military firearms as a hobby and mostly used social media to express his views. The police records add additional context to these contrasting images.
Robertson’s death came as Republicans — who traditionally described themselves as the Law and Order Party — intensified their attacks on law enforcement, and the FBI in particular. Experts told the AP that threats have become more common in the increasingly polarized United States, making the political climate more dangerous and policing more difficult.
“Things that might once have been roared on TV are now surfacing widely in the public domain,” said Michael German, a former FBI agent who is now a member of the Brennan Center for Justice.
AP writer Nicholas Riccardi in Denver contributed to the coverage.