A California man has been sentenced to six months of house arrest for threatening to kill Rep. Matt Gaetz and his family.
Eugene Huelsman, 59, was sentenced on Thursday after previously pleading guilty to transmission of a threat in interstate commerce.
Huelsman, a former camera operator for CNN and ABC News, had made the threat in a voicemail message left for the congressman at his Florida office on January 9, 2021.
According to the Department of Justice, Huelsman’s profanity-laced message included a threat to “put a bullet in” Congressman Gaetz and members of his family. Huelsman also threatened that he was “coming for” the Congressman, and that he hoped the Congressman would “die in a shallow grave.”
“Tell [M.G.] to watch his back, tell him to watch his children. I’m coming for him… I’m gonna f–king kill him… I’m gonna put a bullet in you and I’m gonna put a bullet in one of your f–king kids too,” Huelsman said, according to the indictment.
After receiving the message, Rep. Gaetz’ office contacted the Capitol Police, triggering security protocols to be enacted. An investigation determined that this was not the first time Huelsman had threatened a politician with violence. He was previously investigated by the Secret Service for “threatening a member of a former President’s family on social media,” though the DOJ did not specify who it was.
Huelsman’s arrest came after Rep. Gaetz took to the House floor to allege that the threat was not being taken seriously by the DOJ on October 20, 2021.
BREAKING: A man traveled across the country with the explicit goal of killing me in Washington, D.C.
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) October 20, 2021
“I think someone may be trying to kill me,” Gaetz stated. “And if they are successful, I would like my constituents to know who stopped their arrest.”
The Florida representative argued that the Justice Department is “biased against Republicans” and had ignored a recommendation from the Capitol Police that Huelsman be arrested.
Huelsman was arrested days later.
“The free exercise of speech is central to our democracy,” stated US Attorney Jason R. Coody in a press release from the DOJ. “However, the communication of threats of physical violence, in this case by an individual who had previously made and been investigated for similar threats of violence, is clearly unlawful. With our law enforcement partners, we are committed to protecting public safety for all citizens. Today’s sentence acknowledges the defendant’s repeated threats of violence and should serve as a significant deterrent to those who would threaten violence against others rather than engage in lawful debate.”
In addition to Huelsman’s home confinement, he has also been fined $10,000 and will have five years of probation.
“Words matter,” said Sherri E. Onks, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Jacksonville Division, “and this sentencing should serve as a warning. Everyone has the right to express their opinion, but when you harass, intimidate, and threaten violence against others, it’s a federal crime that will not be tolerated. The FBI and our law enforcement partners will work to hold you accountable.”