COLUMBUS, Ohio — A gunman who died in a shooting after trying to break into the FBI office in Cincinnati apparently took to social media and demanded that federal agents be killed “on sight” following the search at the home of former President Donald Trump, a law enforcement official said.
Federal investigators are reviewing social media accounts they believe are linked to the shooter, Ricky Shiffer, 42, the official said, who was not authorized to publicly discuss the investigation and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
At least one of the posts on Trump’s Truth social media platform appears to have been posted after Shiffer attempted to break into the FBI office. He said: “If you haven’t heard from me, it’s true that I tried to attack the FBI”
Another message posted on the same site this week by @rickywshifferjr included a “call to arms” and urged people to “be ready to fight” after the FBI search at Trump’s Florida Mar-a-Lago estate.
Authorities are also investigating whether Shiffer, a Navy veteran, had ties to far-right extremist groups such as the proud boysthe manager said.
Shiffer was armed with a nail gun and an AR-15 type rifle when he tried to enter the visitor screening area of the FBI office on Thursday, according to the official. Shiffer fled when officers confronted him.
He was later spotted by a state trooper along a highway and ended up in a shootout that ended with police killing him, authorities said.
The outburst of violence unfolded amid warnings from the FBI that federal agents could face attacks after the raid in Florida.
The FBI is investigating what happened in Cincinnati as an act of domestic extremism, according to the law enforcement official.
Shiffer worked as an electrician, according to one of his social media profiles. He was a registered Republican who voted in the 2020 primaries in Columbus, Ohio, and the 2020 general election in Tulsa, Oklahoma, according to public records.
Court records show the Ohio Department of Taxation filed suit against him in June, seeking a tax lien judgment of $553, according to court records listing him at an address in St. Petersburg, Florida. He also previously lived at several addresses in Columbus and Omaha, Nebraska.
He graduated from central Pennsylvania high school in 1998 and enlisted in the Navy the same year, then served on the USS Columbia submarine until 2003, according to military records. He was an infantryman in the Florida National Guard from 2008 until 2011, when he was discharged with honor.
“I know he was fine in WWII and in the military,” said Lori Frady, a classmate at West Perry High School in Elliottsburg who hadn’t seen Shiffer since graduating. diploma. “He didn’t have many friends, but the friends he had were great in history and military history.”
Shiffer is thought to have been in Washington in the days leading up to the uprising of January 6, 2021 and may have been at the Capitol that day, but was not charged with any crimes related to the riot, the official said.
Officials have warned of an increase in right-wing threats against federal agents since the FBI entered Trump’s estate in what authorities said was part of an investigation into whether he carried classified documents with him after leaving the White House. Supporters of the former president opposed the search, accusing the FBI and the Justice Department of using the justice system as a political weapon.
FBI Director Christopher Wray denounced the threats as he visited an FBI office in Omaha, Nebraska, on Wednesday, saying, “Violence against law enforcement is not the answer, no matter who you’re mad at.”
The FBI also warned its agents on Wednesday to avoid protesters and make sure their security key cards are ‘not visible outside of FBI space’, citing an increase in social media threats. against office staff and offices.
A now-suspended Twitter account, @rickyshiffer, shared the same profile picture as the Truth Social account and shared similar views, including a call for armed conflict in the United States last spring.
It included messages saying ‘elections are rigged’ against the Tories and the country faces ‘tyranny’.
“I don’t think it was a one-off incident,” said Amy Cooter, a Middlebury College researcher and militia expert. “I’m afraid there’s a pocket full of people who feel compelled to act.”
Courthouses, government offices and election headquarters could all be targets, she said. “Anywhere is fair game now because these people think it’s a personal issue for them,” Cooter said.
Balsamo reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Julie Carr Smyth in Columbus, Ryan Foley in Iowa City, Iowa, John Seewer in Toledo, Margery Beck in Omaha, Nebraska, and Jim Mustian and researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York contributed to this report.