Man suspected of making threats against Texas lawmakers who supported new abortion law arrested
SENTINEL, OK (CBSDFW.COM) — A suspect has been arrested in connection with a recent threat made against Texas lawmakers who voted for the new fetal heartbeat abortion law.
Officials arrested 20-year-old Austin Wendell Lund of Sentinel in connection with the threat.
Lund’s case is being prosecuted by the Payne County, Oklahoma District Attorney.
Earlier this week, CBS-11 learned 101 lawmakers, most of them Republicans, were warned by the Texas Department of Public Safety, about a credible threat made against them after they voted for the fetal heartbeat bill earlier this year.
Republican State Representative Matt Shaheen of Plano, who supported the bill during the regular legislative session, said Wednesday he received a call from DPS Tuesday night and that he also spoke with the FBI about the threat. “You’re alarmed at first, but quite frankly, every once in a while, we receive these types of threats.”
A source said while lawmakers have received threats individually before, what’s different about this one is that so many were threatened at once. Representative Shaheen said the threat came in a post on the social media site Reddit by a man in Oklahoma. He said his name and those of 100 other lawmakers were included in the post, and that the man who made the threat mentioned legislative corpses. “It was disturbing. It’s obviously someone who has mental issues, a very angry person.”
Democratic State Representative Ana Maria Ramos of Dallas voted against the fetal heartbeat bill and condemned the threat.
“It’s never okay,” she said. “And it’s scary for all of us, because these are my colleagues, right? These are human beings, that people on the House floor and in legislature, people have also sacrificing their time to fight for what they feel is best for our country. So, so it’s never okay. It is scary.”
The Texas Department of Public Safety declined comment, but in a statement said, “The Texas Department of Public Safety takes all matters of personal security and public safety very seriously and we do not discuss details of ongoing threats and investigations.”
The fetal heartbeat law made national headlines this month after the Supreme Court declined to block it. Under the law, once a fetal heartbeat is detected, doctors can’t perform an abortion. A fetal heartbeat can be detected as early as six weeks when many women don’t know they’re pregnant. There is no exception for rape and incest.
Shaheen said, “It’s really, really simple to me. If there’s a little baby with a heartbeat, it deserves to live. The Declaration of Independence says we are endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights and among those are life. So that little baby is a little life.”
Under the law, government entities can’t enforce it, but private citizens can by filing civil lawsuits against doctors and others, and could be fined $10,000 per procedure.
Ramos said, “It allows anybody who has not even personally been been injured by a woman who’s making decisions with her family, it allows anybody to come into her personal business and, and attack her through the courts or through her back attack her family through the courts. So I really do hope that it is, you know, turned down at the Supreme Court, ruled unconstitutional. We cannot allow neighbors to attack neighbors in our community.”
The Biden administration is challenging the law in federal court in Austin, where a hearing is set for October 1.
Various other legal challenges related to the law have also been made in a variety of state and federal courts.
The abortion law is among several Texas bills that have received national attention.
This summer, dozens of Democrats in the House broke quorum and traveled to Washington, DC in an effort to block the elections integrity bill.
Rep. Ramos said when she and other Democrats broke quorum this summer, they also received threats. “So I know what it feels like. They actually did that to us a couple of months ago. It’s just unfortunate that this is where we’re at today.”
The elections bill passed after the House achieved a quorum last month. Ramos and Shaheen disagree on the bills, but agree threats of violence are unacceptable. Rep. Shaheen said, “I would condemn any type of threat to any elected official, no matter what the topic.”
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