Kimberly C. Moore
The Ledger, Lakeland, Fla.
WINTER HAVEN — One day before Joe Biden is slated to be sworn in as the 46th president of the United States under the tightest inaugural security in the nation’s history, a Polk County sheriff’s deputy was arrested for written threats the deputy allegedly made relating to the violence that occurred Jan. 6 at the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C., according to the Sheriff’s Office.
Deputies arrested 29-year-old Peter Heneen, a six-year veteran of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, on charges of making threats to kill federal law enforcement officers and those he deemed “tyrants.” He is charged with “written threats to kill, do bodily injury, or conduct a mass shooting or an act of terrorism,” which is a second-degree felony.
“I am angry beyond words,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said during a Tuesday evening press conference. “Having him arrested was important. Having him arrested before Inauguration Day was even more important.”
Judd said Heneen was communicating with another deputy the night of Jan. 6, talking about the riot of Trump supporters who had stormed into the Capitol building, leading to the deaths of five people, including a Capitol Police officer. That’s when Heneen allegedly made the threatening comments via Facebook private messenger, according to the Sheriff’s Office. It was the other deputy who turned in Heneen, reporting the threats to his commanding officer and saying he was worried about his friend’s mental state.
“Our deputy who reported this is a hero. That deputy did the right thing — he gave us information on a written threat of a mass shooting or act of terrorism,” Judd said, praising the informant, whom he would not name. Judd did not know his age or how long he has worked at PCSO.
“It’s important to understand that words matter and threatening words to hurt, to kill, are not acceptable,” Judd said.
Among Heneen’s statements:
“Need to make D.C. streets run red with the blood of these tyrants — should have drug those tyrants out in the street and executed them.”
“I’ll f—ing kill these people. F— the federal government. The FBI are corrupt. They’re all corrupt…I’ll f—ing kill them all… I have my s— next to my bed ready to go.”
The other deputy tried to talk him down from his anger, warning that the authorities may be listening to his conversations.
“I’ll slit their throats if they touch any of my family,” Heneen reportedly said, adding that he would “take the fight to them…me and all the other patriots and militias. Any cop or military who stands in the way is the enemy.
Judd said the informant was investigated as well, and nothing was found in any of his communications that indicated he had threatened anyone.
Judd said there was no evidence to show Heneen belonged to any hate groups or that he had any plans to go to Washington, D.C., this week, although there has been chatter on the internet that another riot is planned during the inauguration.
Heneen had minor infractions on his record, including several traffic accidents in which he was at fault. He received counseling for those. He was also ordered at one point to shine his shoes and, when he didn’t, he was suspended for eight hours for defying his commanding officer.
Conspiracy theorists have said, without any evidence, that the 2020 presidential election was rigged and votes were changed from President Donald Trump to Biden. That rumor has enraged those who believe it, although dozens of court cases challenging election results have been dismissed by both Democrat and Republican judges at all levels, some of whom were appointed by the outgoing president.
“When you have 320 million people in a country, you’re always going to have conspiracy theorists, you’re always going to have people who don’t’ agree with the outcome of the horse race, the football game or the election,” Judd said. “It’s clear who won the election and that is President-elect Biden, who is taking office tomorrow.”
Judd said the country and law enforcement officials didn’t have to worry about crazy theories until the advent of social media and 24-hour news cycles.
“We are far afield when we take these radical comments and say that all 320 million people believe that. Let’s get away from this fringe on the far right and far left and get back to the middle of this bell curve,” Judd said. “The overwhelming majority of people are right of center, left of center and are God-fearing, good people. I love the people of this county, of this state, of this nation and there will always be white noise and radical opposition. And I’m just sorry in this environment that we just choose to put all this out there.”
Heneen will be eligible for bail following a first appearance before a judge.
(c)2021 The Ledger (Lakeland, Fla.)
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