A disturbing recurrence in 2023: Individuals hiding behind anonymous usernames (especially on 4chan) making online threats to kill Volusia Sheriff Mike Chitwood.
The latest incident, a Pennsylvania man arrested for threatening Volusia Sheriff’s deputy Royce James, is the first not directly addressed to the sheriff; however, it adds to the several directed at the official this year.
The situation began in February, after Chitwood and other county leaders called out a group known as the Goyim Defense League for a variety of antisemitic activities reported in Volusia County, including displaying antisemitic signs on a pedestrian overpass leading to the Daytona International Speedway the weekend of the Daytona 500.
In addition to the most recent threat, six others have been made against Chitwood this year, mostly from individuals outside of Florida.
Some of those extradited even received a not-so-friendly greeting from the sheriff himself as they arrived in Volusia County.
Here is a look at each case:
Table of Contents
1. New Jersey man accused of threatening to murder Chitwood
The first threat came in the beginning of March, when Richard Golden, 38, of Monmouth Junction, New Jersey, was charged with second-degree felony written threats to kill or injure.
According to the sheriff’s office, Golden used the 4chan chatroom to write: “Just shoot Chitwood in the head and he stops being a problem. They have to find a new guy to be the problem. But shooting Chitwood in the head solves an immediate problem permanently. Just shoot Chitwood in the head and murder him.”
During a press conference announcing the arrest, Chitwood said Golden was an unemployed, anti-law enforcement person who was living in a back bedroom at his mother’s house.
“Once he is extradited, he will be housed at the happiest place on earth, the Volusia County Branch Jail,” Chitwood said.
Last week, a judge denied a request by Golden’s defense to dismiss the charge against him, arguing that his comments were not a “true threat.”
2. California man accused of threatening to kill Chitwood
At the end of March, San Diego police arrested Tyler Meyer, 30, at a home where he lived with his mother.
Meyer was the second individual charged with threatening the Volusia sheriff in 2023.
Meyer was charged with making a written threat to kill or injure, a second-degree felony.
He is also accused of posting his threat on 4chan: “It’s too bad Mike Chitwood isn’t safe now that I’m planning to kill him. I’m going to shoot Mike Chitwood. I’m going to kill him by shooting him to death.”
Meyer was extradited to Volusia County in April.
“Tyler, I’m Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood,” the sheriff said as Tyler Meyer descended an airport escalator with two law enforcement escorts by his side. “Welcome to Volusia County, Florida. Enjoy your stay.”
“Thank you,” Meyer replied.
Meyer posted a $100,000 bond on May 19 and was released from the Volusia County Branch Jail, according to court records.
3. Connecticut man third 4chan user accused of threatening Chitwood
Cristhian Zapata, of Ansonia, Connecticut, was arrested by the Shelton Police Department on a felony warrant for making a written threat to kill Chitwood.
According to police, Zapata, 23, wrote on 4chan: “I WILL KILL CHITWOOD, MARK MY WORDS.”
Authorities traced Zapata’s message to his Connecticut home, where he lived with his sister, her fiancé and her child.
According to the sheriff’s office, Zapata’s sister told authorities that her brother was fascinated with Adolf Hitler and was always on his computer, often participating in extremist chat rooms and “talking to unknown people about conspiracy theories and white supremacist ideology.”
Zapata was extradited in May, and although Chitwood was not present at his arrival, he tweeted: “Sorry I wasn’t able to join the welcoming committee this time. Enjoy your stay.”
Zapata pleaded no contest Sept. 27 to written threats to kill or do bodily injury. He faces up to 15 years in prison.
4. Canadian man accused of threatening Chitwood
He is also accused of sending emails threatening to murder the sheriff and his family members, according to the sheriff’s office.
“In a follow-up email in March, Stromberg wrote that he had made an ‘obviously much more credible threat’ but was disappointed that ‘not one police car let alone FBI car has pulled up to my house,’” said sheriff’s office spokesman Andrew Gant.
Stromberg will not be extradited to Volusia County; he was charged with uttering threats to cause death and is expected to be tried in Canada.
5. Deltona man accused of threatening to kill Chitwood
Ethan Russell, 22, of Deltona was already in jail when in July he was charged with threatening to kill Chitwood.
Russell had been in jail since May for trespassing at a construction site where he attempted suicide, according to the arrest report.
He had also been put on probation three years ago for threatening to conduct a mass shooting, and threatening to bomb and burn down federal buildings and high schools.
Russell wrote in a letter that he would run Chitwood over with a car, and if that didn’t kill him, he said he would beat him to death and burn his body with napalm, according to the arrest report.
6. Alaska man already indicted on murder charges accused of threatening to ‘blind and kill’ Chitwood
Joshua Wahl, 31, of Dillingham, Alaska, who had already been indicted for two counts of murder in his home state, was again indicted this week for threatening the Volusia sheriff.
He was indicted on one count of cyberstalking and four counts of transmitting threats in interstate commerce.
Wahl is accused of making the threats both via email and through 4chan between March and April, which included to “blind and kill,” according to the sheriff’s office.
“Not every loser threatening violence on the internet gets caught, but I’m glad one more is getting a dose of reality,” Chitwood said in response to the indictment.
It is unclear when Wahl will be extradited to Volsuia County.
This article originally appeared on The Daytona Beach News-Journal: Man who threatened sheriff pleads no contest. What about the other 5?
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