A man is accused of threatening to kill U.S. Senator Jon Tester from Montana.
Police named a 45-year-old man in the case, charging him with two counts of "threats to injure and murder a United States Senator," which is a felony in that state.
The man pleaded not guilty to those charges in U.S. District Court in Missoula on Thursday afternoon.
In the indictment, prosecutors say on Jan. 30, 2023, the man made numerous threatening calls to Sen. Tester by phone, leaving voicemails at his Kalispell office.
In one of the messages the man is accused of saying, "there is nothing more than to have you stand toe to toe with me. You stand toe to toe with me. I rip your head off. You die. You stand in a situation where it is physical between you and me. You die."
An indictment accuses the man of saying, "I will never stop....and I would love to destroy you and rip your f***ing head from your shoulders. That is no problem. Call that a threat. Send the FBI."
The man acknowledged in a recording that he threatened Sen. Tester and that such threats were "on purpose," according to authorities.
On Feb. 1, 2023, the FBI contacted the defendant and instructed him not to threaten physical violence toward Sen. Tester. Then on Feb. 10, 2023, the man is accused of again calling Sen. Tester stating in one voice message, "I want you to understand. If I ever pull my trigger, I know what dies."
In another voicemail received on the same date, the man is accused of saying, "No one with any understanding of anything pulls the trigger. Unless they know what they're shooting at..my trigger doesn't get pulled until I know what I'm shooting at. And when I know what I'm shooting at, and I've decided it's dead, it gets pulled. And there's no if ands or buts about it. And there's no coming back from that."
The man was arrested by law enforcement on Wednesday. His preliminary pretrial conference is set for March 8 before a judge.
This story was originally published by KPAX in Missoula, Montana.