Federal officials charged a Florida man on Friday with leaving threatening phone messages laced with racist slurs at the offices of Senator Cory Booker and two House members, including Representative Rashida Tlaib.
The man, John J. Kless, 49, made three phone calls within 30 minutes, starting at 7 a.m. on Tuesday, according to court records. Mr. Kless, of Tamarac, Fla., about 15 miles northwest of Fort Lauderdale, was charged with interstate transmission of threats, according to court papers.
In the first call, to the office of Representative Eric Swalwell, a California Democrat who is running for president, Mr. Kless said that “the day you come after our guns” would be the day “you’ll be dead,” court papers said.
About nine minutes later, in a voice mail message to the office of Ms. Tlaib, Democrat of Michigan, he began with, “Hey, Taliban.” Mr. Kless, referring to Representative Ilhan Omar, the freshman Democrat from Minnesota and one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, then said, “Tell your Taliban friend” to stay silent about the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, court records said.
President Trump in a tweet last week targeted Ms. Omar for remarks she made during a speech on civil rights and Muslims in America. He used a graphic video featuring the burning World Trade Center towers and other images from the attacks in the tweet. Speaker Nancy Pelosi asked House officials last week to review security measures intended to protect Ms. Omar after the president’s tweet.
Mr. Kless said in the voice mail to Ms. Tlaib’s office that “this ain’t Trump’s fault,” court records said, adding, “It’s all your people’s fault.”
Mr. Kless said that “the day when the bell tolls” and “this country comes to a war, there will be no more threats,” court records said. He also said, “There’s people like me out there, millions and millions of us, who hate you” for the 2001 attacks.
Mr. Kless’s arrest came after a 55-year-old New York man was charged this month with threatening Ms. Omar. Federal agents charged that man, Patrick W. Carlineo Jr., after he reportedly called her office, described her as “a terrorist” and promised, in an expletive-laden threat, to “put a bullet in her skull.”
In the message left at Mr. Booker’s office on Tuesday, Mr. Kless referred to the senator, a Democrat from New Jersey who is running for president, as a “disgrace.”
“Don’t you worry, you government officials will be in the graves” where they belong, he said, according to court records.
Based on the threatening nature of the calls and that Ms. Tlaib was scheduled to speak in Florida on April 20 and 21, law enforcement officials contacted a cellphone company to gain customer information for the phone number where the calls originated, Lacey Evans, a special agent of the United States Capitol Police, said in an affidavit.
Information provided by the company revealed Mr. Kless’s address, details of outgoing calls, location updates and current GPS coordinates.
Mr. Kless was involved in making harassing calls to Ms. Pelosi’s office in Washington in February, according to court papers. It was not immediately clear what actions, if any, were taken by law enforcement in that case.
“This early 2019 case included voice messages by Kless concerning taking away his guns, abortion, illegal immigration and Muslims in Congress,” Agent Evans wrote.
Marlene Fernandez-Karavetsos, special counsel to the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida, said one gun was seized from a backpack of Mr. Kless’s and others from a gun safe at his home. Ammunition was also recovered. Information about the kinds of weapons was not immediately available.
United States Magistrate Judge Barry S. Seltzer ordered Friday that bond be set at $25,000. Mr. Kless has until Monday afternoon to post 10 percent of the bond amount, Ms. Fernandez-Karavetsos said. Until then, the judge ordered him released with a GPS monitor. The judge also imposed a curfew and ordered Mr. Kless not to have contact with the officials.
Mr. Kless could not be reached on Friday night. Court records indicated he was hiring his own lawyer, but it was not immediately clear who that was.
Representatives for Ms. Tlaib and Mr. Booker could not be immediately reached on Friday night. On Twitter, Mr. Swalwell thanked the Capitol Police and Florida law enforcement “for protecting my staff and constituents.”