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Detroit man arrested, accused of threatening to kill Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, AG Nessel

Police lights. (MLive File Photo/TNS)
May 18, 2020

A Detroit man was arrested after threatening to kill Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Attoreny General Dana Nessel in messages sent using social media, the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office says.

Robert S. Tesh, 32, sent “credible threats” to kill the governor and attorney general to an “acquaintance” using “a social media messenger” on Thursday, April 14, the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office said in a charging statement issued Friday.

Tesh, who’s since been arraigned and released on bond with a GPS tracking tether, is charged with making a threat of terrorism, punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

“The alleged facts in this case lay out a very disturbing scenario,” Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said in a prepared statement. “We understand that these times can be stressful and upsetting for many people. But we will not and cannot tolerate threats like these against any public official who are carrying out their duties as efficiently as they can.

“You can disagree with their positions or their methodology, but you absolutely cannot act as this defendant allegedly acted or you will be charged criminally.”

The arrest comes a day after hundreds of protesters converged at the state Capitol in opposition of Whitmer and her stay-home orders enacted to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Prior to the rally, threatening behavior during prior armed protests at the Michigan Capitol prompted Democrats to call for a gun ban in the Capitol building and drew a public scolding from Sen. Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clark Lake.

Concerns escalated this week after the Detroit Metro Times published a story highlighting several explicit threats made against Whitmer in various Facebook groups, including suggestions that the governor be hanged, shot or beaten.

A small tussle broke out at Thursday’s Capitol protest when someone arrived with a brunette-haired Barbie Doll attached to a noose. Bystanders stripped the man of his effigy.

Tesh is scheduled to return to court in Wayne County for a probable cause hearing on June 3. The specific threats he’s accused of making in the messages have not been released by authorities.


In addition to washing hands regularly and not touching your face, officials recommend practicing social distancing, assuming anyone may be carrying the virus.

Health officials say you should be staying at least 6 feet away from others and working from home, if possible.

Use disinfecting wipes or disinfecting spray cleaners on frequently-touched surfaces in your home (door handles, faucets, countertops) and carry hand sanitizer with you when you go into places like stores.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has also issued an executive order requiring people to wear face coverings over their mouth and nose while inside enclosed, public spaces.


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