× Man Charged With Sending Dozens of Violent Threats to L.G.B.T.Q. Groups
The federal government has charged a Virginia man for allegedly sending over a dozen threatening messages to people affiliated with the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, including threatening violence against a LGBT advisory board on International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.
Darwin McNeal, 49, is being held on several counts including transmitting a threat to injure another person, and using a communication facility to intimidate.
It’s unclear whether McNeal, who lives in Winchester, Virginia, has a lawyer who could comment on the charges.
While the government’s arrest and prosecution are a welcome development for the LGBT community, it’s not the first time a person charged with such a crime.
“This is why there are hate crime laws — to end this type of fear and to ensure that our community is free to live,” said Bill Meierling, special agent in charge of the FBI in Maryland, which recently announced its own hate crime initiative.
In most cases, the harassment is focused on members of the L.G.B.T.Q. community, but recently the LGBT community has been hit with violent attacks by whites in the name of Jesus, and a historic firefighter removed the headdress of a man convicted of child molestation.
The FBI launched its National High Risk List in 2005, which includes 58 unique names, not all of whom they identify as criminal or gang members, and speaks to the profile of the violence that the LGBT community has faced, noting it is followed by health issues, reduced access to services, and possible attempts at suicide.
According to an FBI release, McNeal is accused of sending more than 20 harassing messages to an organization on International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.
It isn’t clear whether McNeal specifically targeted the LGBTQ community in any of the threatening messages, but in October 2013, he threatened to kill a person affiliated with the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, or IGLHRC, and used this year’s date to suggest there would be trouble.
In the message, which has been released by the FBI, McNeal told the person to “die here, where u live, u guys see my take, stay safe,” and threatened to “put the f-kin real on you.”
McNeal posted a photo on Facebook on Oct. 12, 2019, posing with a shotgun. He deleted the photo days later, but the FBI obtained a search warrant for his home and seized the Facebook account on which the image was posted.
This isn’t the first time McNeal has been accused of sending threatening messages.
According to the FBI release, the government has evidence that McNeal posted on Facebook in 2009, threatening to shoot anyone who would give information about the death of an elderly man who was found dead at his home, but authorities never charged him for that.