A Massachusetts man, already under FBI investigation, was arrested over the weekend after he expressed a desire to burn down mosques, attack police stations and assassinate President Barack Obama.
Joseph Garguilo was arrested while in possession of ammunition in violation of a restraining order. When the police raided his home, they found a trove of ammo, parts to make an AR-15 rifle, explosive chemicals and handwritten notes threatening violence against Muslims, according to Massachusetts attorney office.
The FBI started their investigation last month when they received a tip that Garguilo was amassing weapons and was planning to “plant a bomb in police station…and kill as many homeland security officers as he can before they kill him.”
A witness told the police Garguilo told him “when President Obama was on the golf course in Martha's Vineyard, Garguilo should have taken the opportunity to kill him.”
Garguilo also said he wanted to “chain a mosque closed and burn it down. Burn every [person] down in there,” according to court documents.
Garguilo was stockpiling weapons despite a restraining order by his ex-wife, Kara Florian, that prohibited him from doing so “substantial likelihood of immediate danger of abuse.”
Florian says she obtained it after Garguilo allegedly threatened to kill her. At one time, Garguilo “pulled a knife in a threatening manner with anger on our son while screaming ‘give me back my [expletive] knife,’” she reported.
A neighbor also said Garguilo would fire rounds of BB gun whenever his children came to visit and said he also threw bottle rockets into the street.
“He’s a bad dude. You can tell the guy’s off,” said the neighbor.
Garguilo’s ex-wife also alleged her husband abused alcohol and drugs and hated gays, minorities and the police.
However, Mark Meehan, the man’s attorney, has said there is no merit to the charges, despite testimony from multiple witnesses and despite his extensive criminal record. He accused Florian of a “long history of false allegations” and has also denied his client’s mental state was deteriorating or whether he holds threatening political views. Instead, he has tried to assert Garguilo is a loving father to his two boys. Meehan has also blamed the media for vilifying his client’s character.
“He’s very distressed over this,” said Meehan. “He denies making any threats to anybody.”
Yet despite the overwhelming evidence of the man's intent to do harm, he has not been seen as a national security threat nor branded as a terrorist.
Garguilo is now facing a sentence of at most 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000.