Air Force Civilian Police Officer at Joint Base Charleston Threatened “Mass Casualty Event”: Affidavit

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) An Air Force civilian police officer at Joint Base Charleston has been arrested in Florida after he threatened to drive his vehicle to a hospital or military base so authorities would be forced to kill him, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said. .

The FDLE arrested Thomas James Stephan on Wednesday after receiving a warning from authorities in South Carolina, where the man worked as an Air Force civilian police officer at Joint Base Charleston.

He was charged with written or electronic threats to kill, harm someone or carry out a mass shooting or an act of terrorism, according to the affidavit.

An arrest affidavit says Stephan, 30, sent multiple text messages to a sworn JBC law enforcement officer on Tuesday, threatening to drive his vehicle to a hospital or enter a military installation and cause a fatal shooting so that the authorities would be forced to kill him. .

Stephan “sent multiple text messages indicating that he would cause a mass casualty event,” according to the affidavit. “The accused identified a hospital and a military base as targets of an act of terrorism by driving his vehicle into a location to cause injury or death. to several people. »

During the initial investigation, Stephan “reported by text that he was near the PSFB,” reads the affidavit, a reference to Patrick Space Force Base. “There are probable grounds to believe that the accused indicated that he would cause an act of terrorism by creating a mass casualty event.”

After a long series of text messages, Stephan told the JBC security guard to stop texting him or he would go on strike.

“Another text or message and we go from a fatality to a mass case,” Stephan emailed the JCB security officer, according to the affidavit. “Do we understand each other? That’s a lot of what a car full of fuel can do to the hospital… By your silence, you understand.

The JBC agent responded by asking about a potential new job.

“What about the job in Washington,” the security guard sent Stephan.

“That didn’t happen,” Stephan replied. “Don’t work on me, I took the course.”

South Carolina officials interviewed his base associates to determine the phone number he was using and learned that Stephan was near Patrick Space Force Base on Florida’s Atlantic coast, the report said. A civilian member of the 628th Air Base Wing Security Forces Squadron, according to the Post and Courier newspaper, Stephan was then spotted on an overpass near Universal Studios, the newspaper reported, threatening to jump. He has been held by Orlando police for evaluation and investigation until the FDLE warrant is issued.

“We were aware of the threat,” J. Porter, public affairs chief for Patrick Space Force Base and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, told the Air Force Times. Porter declined to specify what security measures, if any, were taken.

Joint Base Charleston officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Stephan is being held without bond in the Orange County Jail. The case will be prosecuted by the state attorney’s office. A lawyer who could speak on Stephan’s behalf was not on the prison records.

Howard Altman is an award-winning editor and journalist who was formerly a military reporter for the Tampa Bay Times and before that the Tampa Tribune, where he covered USCENTCOM, USSOCOM, and SOF in detail among many other topics.

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