This Jan. 6 Rioter Is Posting Death Threats Against the FBI

“Fuck the FBI, hang the traitors.”
jan-6-rioter-fbi-threats
Pro-Trump supporters storm the U.S. Capitol following a rally with President Donald Trump on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

In the buildup to the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021, Brandon Lee Sanders posted multiple violent comments on the fringe, far-right forum TheDonald.

“Carrying a gun and shooting someone are two totally separate things. I’ll be carrying and I pray I don’t have to shoot anyone,” Sanders wrote in late December on the message board named for the ex-president. On Jan. 5, Sanders commented: “Any Congress member who says there is no evidence of fraud is a liar and should be removed from office and tried for treason and/or sedition and then executed.”

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Then, Sanders said he was present on Jan. 6.

“I was there.... come at me fuckers. I even entered the Capitol...... I’d do it again in a heartbeat, but this time I think I might do a few things differently,” Sanders wrote in a now-deleted comment posted on TheDonald on Jan. 9.

The Department of Justice has not arrested Sanders for his role in breaching the Capitol, but in the 18 months since the Capitol riot, Sanders has continued to allegedly post violent and threatening messages on the rabidly pro-Trump message board, and in recent weeks has turned his attention to the FBI agents who conducted the search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home.

“Everyone in [the] FBI involved is complicit in Overthrow of Our Republic and must face the Guillotine!” Sanders wrote two days after the search took place. 

The same day he replied to another thread, writing: “Just figured I’d come in here and agree with you and cement my reputation as a ‘domestic terrorist’ with the FBI. Fuck the FBI, hang the traitors.”

And last week, Sanders added: “We need trials, jail, and executions where appropriate. The time for playing nice is long gone, they had their chances numerous times. I’m done, no compromise and no reconciliation.”

VICE News has chosen to name two of the individuals behind these anonymous accounts as they have repeatedly made threats of violence against public officials on a platform where users have shown their willingness to turn online threats into real world action.

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Sanders is one of many members of TheDonald posting explicit threats against the FBI agents; others also posted threats against the judge who signed the search warrant. Those threats have come mostly on fringe message boards and Telegram channels populated by far-right extremists who have a history of following through on their threats

Days after the FBI search took place, one man attacked an FBI office with a nail gun and an AR-style rifle. The shooter had posted multiple threats against the FBI in the days leading up to the attack. 

Like most members of TheDonald, Sanders used an anonymous pseudonym to post his threats, using the nickname “Thep1mp.” However, researchers at Advance Democracy, a nonpartisan and nonprofit organization that conducts public-interest investigations, were able to track down Sanders’ identity thanks to the information he shared in recent years on TheDonald and a linked Reddit account.

Based on his comments on the platform, the researchers concluded that Sanders has access to a number of weapons, including an AR-15, believes in a number of conspiracy theories including QAnon and Pizzagate, and may belong to a local militia. Sanders has also repeatedly used the Proud Boys’ motto “fuck around and find out” in comments on the site.

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The researchers found a link to a now-dormant YouTube account called 888sanders, and they were able to identify Sanders through a LinkedIn profile that closely matched the biographical details he revealed while posting as theP1mp, including his position at an Irish-owned engineering company.

Sanders did not respond to emails, phone calls or messages sent to his online accounts by VICE News. Days after VICE News contacted Sanders, his profile on TheDonald disappeared.

Sanders is the second person who took part in the January 6 riot who has been posting threats on TheDonald in the wake of the FBI search. Earlier this month, Tyler Welsh Slaeker, a Washington state man awaiting sentencing for storming the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, posted threats against the FBI.

“Are we not in a cold civil war at this point?” Slaeker wrote under a threat entitled “locked and loaded.”

But it’s not just Capitol rioters posting threats against the FBI on TheDonald.

A man named Gene Costa, who, according to LinkedIn, has worked in the past as a science teacher and a special ed supervisor with the Lewisville Integrated School Division,  has also allegedly threatened the FBI agents, according to Advance Democracy’s report.

In April, VICE News reported on a call for the execution of a school official by the then-anonymous ProudKoreanAmerican account after it had posted the official’s personal details, including her home address, on the platform on five separate occasions. 

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Now, Advance Democracy researchers have identified Costa as the person behind the ProudKoreanAmerican handle. In the months since he has continued to allegedly post threatening messages and in the wake of this month’s search of Trump’s  Mar-a-Lago home, he has joined a chorus of commenters who have posted hate speech and death threats against the agents and the other officials involved in the search.

“They need to be terminated from the planet as traitors. If you are a patriotic American in the FBI/DOJ, the ONLY justification for staying is if you're a whistleblower. That's it. Otherwise, YOU and everyone you work with will be treated to trials (real trials) and summary executions for your treason,” Costa wrote on August 9 under a post about Department of Justice and FBI employees.

When contacted by VICE News, Costa initially denied he was responsible for the ProudKoreanAmerian account. However, when VICE News pointed out the evidence linking him to the account, including a post on his personal Facebook page that referenced Korean Americans, Costa stopped communicating and his Facebook account was suddenly deleted.

In March, the ProudKoreanAmerican account made eight statements urging other users of the forum to harass Austin Independent School District staff in response to the announcement of a planned “Pride Week” celebration. He also repeatedly claimed to have impersonated a journalist employed by the Dallas Morning News.

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VICE News reviewed an email sent from Costa’s own email address to Austin Independent School District in which he claimed he was a reporter for the Dallas Morning News. Additionally, a person who was an employee at the school district at the time told VICE News that she received threats in direct messages that came from Costa’s personal Facebook page.

Over the weekend, Costa posted a message on TheDonald referencing VICE News’ requests for comments. The first comment under the post is a threat against this VICE News reporter. “Be a shame if someone found out his address. So maybe people could go ask him questions in person,” a different user called wrote in response.

On August 13, Costa publicized the names of the FBI agents who conducted the search, even though those names have been redacted in the official copy of the search warrant released by the DOJ: “These are traitors to the country, if you encounter their families, treat them like Democrats treat SCOTUS. Protest outside of their homes.” 

A day later, Costa wrote: “You’re an IDIOT if you don’t get armed. The Democrats want you dead. The FBI wants you dead. The Deep State wants your kids dead. Go now and buy ammo for self-defense.”

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