A 31-year-old Portland man is accused of making at least 50 different violent threats online to kill President Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and other public officials in Washington, D.C., and to carry out mass shootings and bombings of schools and businesses in Portland.
Jesse David Bennett used other names to issue the threats, according to Washington County Sheriff’s Detective Jeremy Chedester, a member of the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force.
Bennett described himself as a “semi white supremacist” and a Trump supporter in some of his emails, according to a federal affidavit. He has previously been prosecuted in state and federal court in Oregon for making similar online threats.
He appeared Wednesday afternoon in federal court in Portland following his arrest March 21 on charges of making threats against the president, communicating threats over the internet and making threats involving fire and explosives.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Jolie M. Russo ordered Bennett to remain in custody pending trial, finding he presents a danger to the community and a serious risk of not returning to court if released.
Assistant Federal Public Defender Francesca Freccero said she didn’t have a proposed release plan to present to the court but may offer one in the future. Bennett is scheduled to be arraigned April 19.
Last June, he sent threatening emails to the U.S. Department of Justice, talking about killing Biden and Harris and exploding bombs during “the prime-time hearings,” an apparent reference to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S Capitol, according to the affidavit.
Emails at that time also threatened the hijacking of private planes to crash into the U.S. Supreme Court building and the gunning down of “all police in DC, including Capital Police and Federal Law Enforcement,” according to the affidavit.
In one Oct. 21, 2022, email, Bennett wrote that he was a “Trump supporter” who planned to do “mass shootings on NE Sandy Blvd in the Hollywood District and Rose City Park neighborhood,” the affidavit said.
Later that month, in emails sent to various news media, he identified himself as a “semi white supremacist” and wrote about his personal grievances against minorities, liberals, law enforcement and Portland in general, according to the affidavit.
“Me and a lot of people are sick of Portland’s crap. That is why we are doing this,” the email said, as quoted in the affidavit.
On Election Day last year, an email from “email@example.com” was sent to unidentified people in Portland, demanding, “you better be voting to turn Oregon red. If not, then we will violently act to destroy your businesses and murder democrats and liberals in Portland,” according to the affidavit.
Later in November, several Portland businesses received threatening emails from Bennett, bemoaning the results of the recent Oregon election, according to Chedester.
“Since (redacted) won with Oregon remaining a blue state, we will take action,” one email said. Bennett used racist slurs in the email as he threatened to kill Black people and pledged to “start a race war here in the Portland area soon,” Chedester wrote in the affidavit.
On Feb. 10, an email with the subject “Terrorist Attack at Super Bowl” was sent to people in Missouri and several people in Phoenix, Arizona, according to the affidavit. Kansas City won the 2023 Super Bowl, played in Phoenix.
Further emails threatened mass shootings at two high schools in Portland that have minority students, according to the affidavit. The high schools weren’t named in the affidavit.
Bennett had sent menacing messages before, according to the affidavit and court records.
At the time of the most recent allegations, he was on felony probation for attempted arson, manufacturing a destructive device and intimidation convictions in Multnomah County Circuit Court for throwing Molotov cocktails at two occupied residences in Portland in 2019, including one that had a rainbow-colored flag out front, according to court records.
In 2014, he pleaded guilty in federal court in Portland to similar crimes for sending messages threatening to rape women, kill the governor and blow up buildings like “the explosions in Boston.” As part of a plea agreement, he was sentenced to three years of probation, including four months of home detention.
In 2011, he sent a bomb threat to Madison High School, which he had attended, under a former classmate’s name, according to the affidavit. He was convicted of identity theft the following year in connection with the threat.