A Michigan man was charged this week with illegal possession of a firearm while threatening to kill government officials, LGBTQ people and FBI agents, authorities said Friday.
Randall Robert Berka II, of Sebewaing, Michigan, was in illegal possession of four firearms – three long guns and a pistol – as well as ammunition and bulletproof vests, the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan said in a news release.
Since 2012, the 30-year-old suspect has been prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition. After being involuntarily committed for mental health treatment, the state of Michigan determined Berka to be “legally incapacitated” and appointed him a legal guardian the following year, according to a criminal complaint filed Thursday in US District Court. .
Her mother, who bought the firearms from Berka, told FBI agents that she feared for her life and did not believe her mental treatment was working.
Berka came to the attention of the FBI after posting several death threats against Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, President Joe Biden, members of the LGBTQ community and law enforcement officers on YouTube. Google, YouTube’s parent company, alerted authorities about the posts.
Among the statements, Berka wrote: “I am going to kill these democrats, Biden deserves to die”, “I am going to kill the lgbt freaks” and “I am more than willing to kill Whitmer and I live in Michigan”.
In several of the posts, Berka used homophobic and transphobic slurs when referring to LGBTQ people. She also repeatedly said that Democrats need to “get shot and killed.”
“The actions of this defendant were very alarming,” James A. Tarasca, special agent in charge of the FBI in Michigan, said in a statement.
“When free speech crosses the line and becomes a threat of violence against another person, compounded by the illegal possession of firearms, the full investigative resources of the FBI will be used,” added Tarasca.
Berka is currently in jail awaiting a detention hearing on March 15. Federal prosecutors will ask the court to keep him in pretrial detention.
If convicted, Berka faces up to 15 years in prison.