Ohio Man Threatened to Shoot Federal Agents, Authorities Say

In February, F.B.I. agents in Alaska who were researching an online chat room found that someone had posted several times about supporting mass shootings and assaults, and targeted Planned Parenthood, the authorities said.

The person’s online following was growing, they said. Delving deeper, the authorities found that he had written in June about shooting federal agents. Investigators traced his email address and found that it originated in Boardman, Ohio.

Last week, the authorities arrested Justin Olsen, 18, in Boardman, and he was charged on Monday with threatening to assault a federal law enforcement officer, according to documents filed in federal court. The authorities seized more than a dozen rifles, including some AR-15-style rifles, and about 10,000 rounds of ammunition from a home where Mr. Olsen was living, according the court filing.

It is not clear whether the weapons belonged to Mr. Olsen, or whether he even had access to them — many were kept in a “gun vault” in his father’s room, according to the filing.

But the details of the F.B.I.’s investigation, outlined in the filing, provided a glimpse of how the authorities investigate and seek to stop online threats from becoming reality at a time when back-to-back mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso this month have shocked the United States.

Mr. Olsen is being held in federal custody, according to the court filing. His lawyer, Ross T. Smith, did not immediately respond to requests for comment Tuesday evening.

Mr. Olsen told an F.B.I. agent that his online posts were jokes and that his comment about shooting federal agents was an exaggeration, according to the court filing.

In a message that Mr. Olsen sent referencing the 1993 gun battle in Waco, Tex., between a religious sect, the Branch Davidians, and agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms — four agents and several members of the sect were killed — he said: “In conclusion, shoot every federal agent on sight.”

He told the F.B.I. that his comments were a “hyperbolic conclusion based on the results of the Waco siege” where “the A.T.F. slaughtered families,” according to the court filing.

Efforts to reach Mr. Olsen’s family on Tuesday evening were unsuccessful.

The F.B.I. did not immediately respond to requests for comment Tuesday evening.

The agency said in the court filing that in March, agents in Alaska found that the online account associated with Mr. Olsen “showed a large increase in subscribers” from the previous month. He had 4,400 followers on iFunny, a website and mobile application where users can share photos, videos and messages, according to the filing.

A message posted by the account in August suggested that people should not comply with gun laws, according to the court filing. “Stock up on stuff they could ban,” the post reads. “In fact, go out of your way to break these laws.”

“Even the Oklahoma City bombing shows that armed resistance is a viable method of political change,” Mr. Olsen posted online, according to the affidavit, apparently referencing the 1995 bombing that killed 168 people. “There is no legal solution.”

Mr. Olsen was living with his father in Boardman at the time of his arrest, according to the affidavit. On Aug. 7, the authorities arrested Mr. Olsen as he was leaving the home.

That same day, federal investigators searched the home. In one bedroom, they found 10,000 rounds of ammunition, camouflage clothing and backpacks, according to the court filing. In the trunk of Justin Olsen’s car, investigators found a machete.

In Mr. Olsen’s father’s bedroom, investigators found AR-15-style rifles and shotguns.

The authorities seized 15 rifles, several shotguns, 10 semiautomatic pistols and 10,000 rounds of ammunition from the home, according to the affidavit.

The next hearing in Mr. Olsen’s case is scheduled for Aug. 16.

Sheelagh McNeill contributed research.

Mihir Zaveri covers breaking news from New York. Before joining The Times in 2018 he was a reporter for The Houston Chronicle.

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