39-year-old Benjamin Craig Matthews has been taken into custody on "five felony counts of terroristic threatening, as well as 13 misdemeanor counts for threats and harassing communications" according to an affidavit from the Baxter County Circuit Court. Leading up to election day, Matthews placed more than 40 calls to CNN's headquarters making threats against anchor Don Lemon. The affidavit also claims Matthews placed calls to MSNBC and other prominent Democratic congresspeople, showing a "pattern of harassment toward certain political affiliations."
Matthews regularly harassed CNN's Atlanta headquarters, calling "dozens of times" between October 31 and November 2. At one point, he called six times within the span of a 23 minutes.
During many calls, Matthews would make threatening comments against Don Lemon, at one point saying he'd like to "kick the s--- out of" Lemon. In another call, he asked the operator to patch him through to Lemon's "dead body hanging from a tree." Over the course of several days and several more calls, Matthews would ask the operator to connect him with "pipe bombs for" Lemon, and "bloody pictures" of Lemon's body, "cut up in small pieces, like the movie Saw."
The Atlanta Police Department traced the calls to Matthew's phone, which revealed he was a resident of Arkansas. Officers in Arkansas took Matthews into custody, and revealed in the affidavit that he'd also made threatening calls to "Rep. Maxine Waters, D-California, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, the Washington Speakers Bureau, Planned Parenthood, and Stormy Daniels' attorney Michael Avenatti."
The charges against Matthews are especially serious at this moment in time, when, just two weeks ago, Cesar Sayoc of Florida was taken into custody for allegedly mailing homemade pipe-bombs to many of the same prominent Democratic voices Matthews harassed and threatened.
Twitter spoke out against Matthews, knowing there's no place for hate in a modern society:
CBS Reports that many of Matthew's calls were inspired by a recent statement from Don Lemon in which he claimed that, statistically, U.S. residents have more reason to fear acts of violence from radicalized far-right white men than from radicalized immigrants or minorities. Lemon would go on to offer several studies and verifiable facts to back up his claim.
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Matthews apparently took such offense to this statement he began calling CNN headquarters and making threats intending to terrorize Lemon.
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Matthews is currently awaiting trial and being held on $15,000 bail.