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(NEW YORK) — A Kansas man has been indicted on charges he made threats on Facebook targeting a Nashville Pride event scheduled for this upcoming weekend, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Middle Tennessee announced Tuesday.
Joshua Hensley, 25, allegedly posted on Facebook in April threatening to “make shrapnel pressure cooker bombs” to attack the event, and on the same day also posted he would “commit a mass shooting,” prosecutors said.
He was arrested at his home by the FBI last Thursday and has a detention hearing scheduled for Friday in Kansas, the Department of Justice said.
Hensley, a Hoisington, Kansas, resident, was charged with two counts of transmitting an interstate threat in connection to the event, which is to be held on June 24 and 25, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Middle Tennessee said in a press release.
“We will not tolerate hate-based, threats of violence designed to intimidate Tennesseans,” U.S. Attorney Henry C. Leventis said. “We will continue to work with our partners at the FBI to ensure that the civil rights of all persons are protected.”
Hensley faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each count, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Tennessee is one of a handful of states that has introduced legislation this year targeting the LGBTQIA+ community, including policies banning gender-affirming care.
Gov. Bill Lee signed legislation into law in March that would ban gender-affirming medical care for transgender youth.
The Department of Justice filed a complaint in April challenging the law, asking a U.S. District Court to issue an order to prevent the law from going into effect on July 1.
The law restricts medical procedures specifically for gender-transitioning youth that would impact access to puberty blockers, hormone therapies and surgeries for transgender people under 18.
Violent threats against the LGBTQIA+ community have increased and are intensifying, the Department of Homeland Security said in a briefing in May.
Within the last year, domestic violence extremists and people who commit hate crimes have increased threats of violence against the LGBTQIA+ community, the DHS document said.
“These issues include actions linked to drag-themed events, gender-affirming care and LGBTQIA+ curricula in schools,” DHS said.
A federal grand jury indicted a Maryland man in July for allegedly posing as a federal officer and targeting gay men in a series of attacks at a Washington, D.C., park.
Michael Thomas Pruden was indicted by a federal grand jury on five counts of assault on federal land, one count of impersonating a federal officer and a hate crime sentencing enhancement “alleging that Pruden assaulted four of the victims because of their perceived sexual orientation,” the Justice Department said at the time.
Pruden pleaded not guilty to all counts, according to court records.
His next status hearing is on July 18, court records show.
As for Hensley, the FBI is currently investigating the case.
At this time, it’s unclear who the attorney is representing Hensley.
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