Denver man accused of making threats to U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse

A Denver man has been arrested after officials said he made numerous threatening calls to U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Lafayette, that mentioned the congressman’s race and stance on gun control.

Michael James Kennedy, 59, was arrested Thursday in Denver on suspicion of stalking, retaliation against an elected official and bias motivated crime.

According to an affidavit, Kennedy in the summer of 2022 “made repeated telephonic threats of gun-based violence and retaliation” toward Neguse that included “a clear racial animus” and touched on Neguse’s stance on gun control.

Denver police and the FBI began the investigation with help from U.S. Capitol Police before turning the case over the Boulder County District Attorney’s Office due to Neguse residing and having offices in Boulder County.

According to the affidavit, Kennedy is suspected of leaving 17 threatening voicemails with Neguse’s Boulder office between May 19 and June 6.

Kennedy’s voicemails frequently referenced mass shootings — including those in Boulder, Columbine and Aurora — and participating in those events.

According to the affidavits, Kennedy at one point said, “I got me a [sic] AK-47 pointed directly at you,” and “You wanna take my gun away?… Maybe I shoot you.”

Neguse, a Democrat and vice chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, has been a proponent of gun control legislation.

Kennedy also makes references to white supremacy and to Neguse being an additional victim of the mass shooting in Buffalo, N.Y., which is believed to be racially motivated. Neguse is Black, while Kennedy is white.

Neguse’s staffers told police they increased security around the congressman due to the calls.

Denver police spoke to Kennedy on June 6 and he admitted to the calls and said he was trying to scare Neguse but did not intend on harming him.

Police did not find any weapons in Kennedy’s home, but he did tell officers he was planning on purchasing a 9 mm.

According to the affidavit, Kennedy stopped placing the calls after police spoke to him.

But an investigator with the Boulder County DA’s Office wrote that there was sufficient evidence that Kennedy “made credible threats” and made those threats “based on Rep. Neguse’s policy stance on gun ownership” and “based on Rep. Neguse’s race.”

Retaliation against an elected official was added in 2021 to a felony statute that already protected judges.

Kennedy remains in custody in Denver on $50,000 bond as he awaits transfer to Boulder County for a preliminary hearing on May 1, according to court records.

He has no criminal record other than a 2018 DUI conviction.

This is the second time the Boulder County District Attorney’s Office has prosecuted a case involving allegations of threats to Neguse or his staffers following an incident in June.

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