TexasMan, yearsSentenced to 5 Years for Threatening Conservative Youth Conference

Alejandro Richard Velasquez Gomez, 20, was sentenced to five years in federal prison for making online threats to attack the Turning Point USA Student Action Summit in Tampa, Florida. Velasquez had planned to travel to the event and posted a threatening message on Instagram, prompting law enforcement intervention.

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TexasMan, yearsSentenced to 5 Years for Threatening Conservative Youth Conference

TexasMan, yearsSentenced to 5 Years for Threatening Conservative Youth Conference

Alejandro Richard Velasquez Gomez, a 20-year-old from San Antonio, Texas, has been sentenced to five years in federal prison for making online threats to attack the Turning Point USA Student Action Summit in Tampa, Florida, in 2022. Velasquez pleaded guilty to a charge of interstate threatening communication after posting a message on his public Instagram profile, threatening a "day of retribution" at the conservative youth conference.

Why this matters: This incident highlights the growing concern of online threats and violence targeting political organizations and events, which can have a chilling effect on free speech and assembly. This incident highlights the growing concern of online threats and violence targeting political organizations and events, which can have a chilling effect on free speech and assembly. It also emphasizes the importance of law enforcement agencies' vigilance in identifying and prosecuting such threats to ensure public safety.

The threat, which was reported to officials, prompted an intervention from law enforcement. U.S. Attorney Jaime Esparza for the Western District of Texas stated, "This man used social media to broadcast the message that he intended to travel across the country and carry out a violent act at an event catering to young political activists. Fortunately, his post was reported to officials who intervened."

Investigators believed that Velasquez planned an attack similar to the 2014 violent rampage by Elliot Rodger, who killed six students and wounded over a dozen others near the University of California, Santa Barbara. In his Instagram post, Velasquez wrote that the first day of the convention would be "the day of retribution, the day I will have revenge against all of humanity."

Velasquez had purchased a plane ticket to fly from Austin to Tampa on July 22, 2022, the first day of the Turning Point USA Student Action Summit, which took place from July 22 to July 24. However, he canceled the ticket the night before his scheduled flight. The U.S. Secret Service and Tampa Police Department were notified of the threat, leading to Velasquez's arrest.

During the investigation, it was revealed that Velasquez had also stalked and harassed a young woman for many months prior to the incident, continuing to do so even while in pre-trial detention. He attempted to obstruct the FBI's investigation by using a group of minor girls to delete information from his online accounts and contact witnesses to hide evidence and influence testimony.

Turning Point USA, the organization targeted by Velasquez's threats, is a Donald Trump-aligned group that organizes young people on college campuses into conservative activism. The incident serves as a sobering illustration of the potential dangers faced by political organizations and the importance of vigilance in reporting and addressing threats of violence.

Special Agent in Charge Aaron Tapp for the FBI San Antonio Field Office emphasized the right of American citizens to gather without worrying about threats of violence. The successful intervention and prosecution of Velasquez demonstrate the commitment of law enforcement agencies to protect the safety and security of individuals exercising their rights to peaceful assembly and free speech.

Key Takeaways

  • Alejandro Velasquez, 20, sentenced to 5 years in federal prison for online threats to attack Turning Point USA summit.
  • Velasquez posted a threat on Instagram, prompting law enforcement intervention and arrest.
  • Investigation revealed Velasquez planned a violent attack, similar to the 2014 Elliot Rodger rampage.
  • Velasquez also stalked and harassed a young woman, and attempted to obstruct the FBI's investigation.
  • The incident highlights the importance of reporting and addressing online threats to ensure public safety and protect free speech.