CLEARWATER, Fla. - A Clearwater man is in jail for allegedly making violent online threats. Investigators say the 61-year-old posted he was going to kill Governor Ron DeSantis, Republican lawmakers, and supporters of President Trump.
Richard Szala told Clearwater detectives he was just running his mouth early Wednesday morning.
“We got a credible tip from an information intelligence gather source about him posting threatening comments on YouTube,” explained Clearwater Lt. Michael Walek.
Police say registered Democrat wrote comments on YouTube videos that he was going to kill his neighbor, Trump supporters, and multiple lawmakers.
“His comments were directed to the Republican party, specific people in the Republican party,” Walek said. “He was threatening to shoot them.”
His alleged targets included Governor Ron Desantis, Florida Senators Marco Rubio, and Rick Scott, and Representative Matt Gaetz. Along with a handful of other GOP elected officials.
61-year-old Richard Szala
“We had other agencies involved it was FLE, the FBI and also the Secret Service were out there participating based upon the threats that were made,” said Walek.
Investigators were able to track the online activity to a house in Clearwater. They seized Szala’s gun, computer and phone. Officials say he was cooperative.
“He admitted to making the statements out of anger and just shouldn’t have said it, didn’t mean it, but he still said it,” Walek said. “If you make a threat and were able to establish probable cause you’re going to go to jail.”
Szala is facing a felony charge of making a false report concerning the use of a firearm in a violent manner.
According to officials, Szala was charged with a similar crime in Illinois back in 1989.