A Texas man has been charged in federal court with making threats to former Baltimore health commissioner Dr. Leana Wen because of her support of COVID-19 vaccines.
An indictment against Scott Eli Harris, 51, of Aubrey, Texas, was unsealed Tuesday in Maryland U.S. District Court, charging Harris with using a cellphone to send threatening messages to Wen in July.
“Never going to take your wonder drug. My 12-gauge promises I won’t,” Harris allegedly wrote. “I’m a 5th generation U.S. Army veteran and a sniper. I can’t wait for the shooting to start.”
He also allegedly used ethnic slurs and other offensive language against Wen, who was born in China but moved to the United States when she was 8. Wen regularly appears on CNN as a medical analyst. She did not respond to a request for comment.
The indictment was handed up on Sept. 29, and unsealed Tuesday after Harris was arrested in Texas, where he will have his initial appearance. No attorney was listed in court records.
“We take seriously threats and intimidation, and this charge makes clear that such conduct will be prosecuted federally,” Maryland U.S. Attorney Erek L. Barron said. “We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to investigate and prosecute those making such threats.”
In July, Maryland federal prosecutors charged a West Virginia man with threatening Dr. Anthony Fauci and his family. Fauci is director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and chief medical advisor to the President Joe Biden.
Harris faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison if convicted, though prosecutors note actual sentences — with a defendant’s previous history and other factors taken into consideration ― are typically less than the maximum.