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Taycheedah man accused of threatening lawmakers over proposal to arm teachers

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Posted at 1:20 PM, Jun 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-02 14:20:07-04

FOND DU LAC COUNTY (NBC 26) — A Taycheedah man is accused of threatening Wisconsin lawmakers over a proposal to arm teachers.

Fond du Lac County District Attorney Eric Toney announced James R. Stearns was charged with one count of Terrorist Threat – Interruption of Government Operations, a Class I felony.

Stearns is accused of writing emails threatening to shoot Wisconsin legislators if they passed a bill allowing teachers to be armed with firearms. A news release from the District Attorney says Sterns sent one email threatening a specific Wisconsin legislator and their family.

According to the release, one email is alleged to have been sent to a radio host stating:

"…Should the lawmakers of the State of Wisconsin ever vote to arm the public school teachers and/or administrators in Wisconsin, the following will happen! [...] Will purchase a gun, the most powerful I can purchase, and go to Madison and shoot as many of the people who vote for this law as I can before someone shoots me. Arming the teachers and administrators would be the worst possible thing our country/state would ever see, and I am more than willing to go down in a blaze of glory. [...] Do Not consider this a THREAT, but rather a PROMISE !!!"

A statement from the District Attorney says Stearns is also alleged to have sent a second email to a specific Wisconsin legislator last month threatening the legislator and their family, saying that people would “hunt you down and your family like animals.”

When authorities investigated the threats and questioned Stearns at his home, a criminal complaint said Stearns asserted he did nothing wrong and said he didn't even own a gun. The complaint states Stearns said he sent the emails because he was upset and that he was just trying to get their attention.

According to the complaint, Stearns said he didn't think the threats would be taken seriously.

The D.A. said Stearns made his initial court appearance Thursday in Fond du Lac County. The prosecutor requested a $10,000 cash bond. The court ordered a $4,000 cash bond with various conditions. Stearns was ordered not to contact the victims in this case, he's not allowed to use the Internet, and he's not allowed to have or use dangerous weapons or ammunition.

Recently, Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos told The Associated Press that he was open to the idea of arming teachers. The statement came days after the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, which reignited the national gun control debate.