By MICHAEL KUNZELMAN Associated Press
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — A Maryland man and a Kansas man have been charged with making separate threats to kill President Joe Biden, authorities said Monday.
Ryan Matthew Conlon, 37, of Halethorpe, Maryland; and Scott Ryan Merryman, 37, of Independence, Kansas; were both arrested last week. Conlon’s case was sealed until Monday. He is also charged with making threats to blow up National Security Agency headquarters.
Merryman was arrested after he traveled from his home to Maryland. Merryman called police in his hometown last Tuesday and said he was on his way to Washington, D.C., to see the president, federal authorities said.
When a Secret Service agent called him last Wednesday, Merryman said God told him to travel to Washington to “lop off the head of the serpent in the heart of the nation,” according to an FBI agent’s affidavit.
“Merryman denied that the serpent was the President of the United States, but stated that he had information about the Book of Revelation that he was being instructed by God to give to the President,” the agent wrote.
Merryman didn’t have a weapon but was carrying ammunition and a spotting scope in his backpack when agents found him in a restaurant’s parking lot in Hagerstown, Maryland, last Wednesday.
The next day, Merryman called the White House switchboard and said he was coming there to “cut off the head of the snake/anti-Christ,” the FBI affidavit said.
Merryman made his initial court appearance by video conference on Monday afternoon. U.S. Magistrate Judge Pamela Meade Sargent ordered him held in custody pending a detention hearing on Feb. 2. Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Sullivan said prosecutors will ask the court to keep him jailed until trial.
An assistant federal public defender assigned to represent Merryman interrupted him when he began to talk about Biden during Monday’s hearing and repeatedly pleaded with the magistrate to free him. Sargent spoke of arranging for Merryman to get a mental health evaluation while he is jailed.
One of Merryman’s lawyers didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment on the charges.
Court filings don’t list an attorney for Conlon, who was released after his initial court appearance last week. U.S. Magistrate Judge A. David Copperthite ordered Conlon to refrain from using a computer or any other internet-connected devices without a probation officer’s permission.
Conlon is accused of sending a string of messages to the NSA and FBI tiplines threatening to bomb the White House to kill the president, blow up the NSA’s headquarters in Ft. Meade, Maryland, and carry out a mass shooting of NSA employees. Investigators traced the messages to a phone number and Maryland address linked to Conlon, according to the FBI.
The FBI found a Facebook account for a username of “Targeted Individual T.I.” with a profile picture that appeared to depict Conlon. The account included pictures of a white Chevrolet Tahoe and described the vehicle as a “Gangstalker” that followed him on New Year’s Eve.
Investigators called Conlon, who said the vehicle had parked next to him in a parking lot once and “made him feel targeted,” an FBI agent’s affidavit said.
“Conlon apologized for sending threats when he becomes angry,” the agent wrote.
People who refer to themselves as a “targeted individual” claim to be victims of “gang-stalking,” said Christine Sarteschi, a professor of criminology and social work at Chatham University in Pittsburgh.
“They believe essentially that there is an organized group of people or organized group efforts to harm them,” said Sateschi, who wrote a 2018 journal article about targeted individuals.