Retired firefighter arrested for threatening to kidnap, kill Wichita mayor over city’s mask ordinance

Mid-South

WICHITA, Kan. (NewsNation Now) —  A retired firefighter who was upset with Wichita’s mask ordinance was arrested on suspicion of threatening to kidnap and kill the mayor of Kansas’ largest city, authorities said.

Police said the 59-year-old suspect who was arrested Friday could face a charge of criminal threat, the Wichita Eagle reported.

Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple, a Democrat, said someone had read him text messages received by another city official that asked about the mayor’s address and threatened his life.

“He said he was going to kidnap me and slash my throat and he needed my address because I needed to see the hangman — me and everyone who, something about tyranny,” Whipple said.

“It sounded like the person was very upset about pretty much mask mandates and he said something about not being able to see his mother because of COVID restrictions on elderly homes,” he said.

Wichita police spokesman Charley Davidson said that no other local officials are believed to have been targeted.

Whipple also provided the following statement on Facebook:

“Violence is never a way to settle disagreements. We’re always stronger together as a City even when times are at there toughest. Tensions maybe high, but we will get through this together as Wichitans. Chelsea, the boys and I appreciate the kind thoughts and prayers. We also would like to thank the brave men & women of the WPD who protect not just us but our whole community. Thank you for the fast response.”

The arrest comes more than a week after authorities said they thwarted a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Authorities allege members of two anti-government paramilitary groups took part in plotting in that case. Six men are charged in federal court with conspiring to kidnap the Democratic governor. Eight others are charged in state court with counts including providing material support for terrorist acts.

NewsNation affiliate WDAF and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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