A 74-year old Long Island, New York retired high school teacher was sentence to 30 months in prison after spending eight years sending anonymous letters threatening to bomb, shoot, and kill more than 60 LGBTQ people, government officials, businesses, and organizations.
“The defendant has a First Amendment right to hold bigoted beliefs; he does not have a right to threaten people based on his bigoted beliefs,” prosecutors told U.S. District Court Judge Joanna Seybert in their 11-page sentencing memo last month. “It is now time for the defendant to face the consequences of his hate-filled conduct.”
Buzzfeed published some of Fehring’s threats, including one sent last year to the owners of New York’s historic Stonewall Inn, considered the iconic birthplace of the LGBTQ civil rights movement.
(Caution: graphic and possibly triggering.)
“ALL OF YOU SHOULD BE SHOT, HUNG, EXTERMINATED,” he wrote. “WE WILL BLOW UP/BURN YOUR ESTABLISHMENTS DOWN. WE WILL SHOOT THOSE WHO FREQUENT YOUR DENS OF FILTH, SHIT, SCUM AND PERVERSION . . . JUST A MATTER OF TIME. PLEASE . . . CATCH AIDS AND DIE . . . JUST FUCKING DIE!!”
Threatening to bomb a Pride parade, Fehring wrote: “THIS WILL MAKE THE 2016 ORLANDO PULSE NIGHTCLUB SHOOTING LOOK LIKE A CAKEWALK.”
49 people were killed in that Florida mass shooting, targeting the LGBTQ and Hispanic communities in 2016.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York detailed more of Fehring’s actions, including sending letters in which he “threatened to, among other things, use firearms and explosives against the recipients.”
“Two such letters threatened that there would be an attack on an LGBTQ+ event in Huntington, New York that would be like the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. Another letter threatened that radio-controlled explosives would be planted at a beach club in Long Beach, New York that had hosted a LGBTQ+ event. In another letter sent in June 2018, Fehring threatened the operators of a water ferry service from Sayville to Fire Island, New York that they should ‘screen everyone coming on board with a metal detector’ and that ‘a thorough search of your boats would be in order.’”
A letter to a “barbershop purported to be from People Who Hate Gays … and In Particular [n-word] Gays and stated, ‘your shop is the perfect place for a bombing … or beating the scum that frequents your den of [expletive] into a bloody pool of steaming flesh.’”
The DOJ’s press release adds that on “November 18, 2021, the FBI Civil Rights Squad and the New York Joint Terrorism Task Force executed a search warrant at Fehring’s home in Bayport, New York, and recovered copies of letters containing threats, supplies used to mail threatening letters, 20 LGBTQ+ Pride flags that were stolen from flagpoles in Sayville, New York in July 2021, and reconnaissance-style photographs from the Eisenhower Park Pride event.”
“The FBI also recovered electronic devices owned by Fehring that contained internet searches for Fehring’s victims and related LGBTQ+ affiliated events and businesses,” it adds. “Law enforcement officers also recovered from Fehring’s residence two loaded shotguns, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, two stun guns, and a stamped envelope addressed to an LGBTQ+ affiliated attorney containing the remains of a dead bird.”