A California man will stand trial for threatening phone call and email sent to two chapters of an Islamic group that referenced "firepower" and the Charlie Hebdo massacre.
John David Weissinger, 53, of La Mesa, will stand trial on eight charges in connection with a criminal threat recorded January 15 as a voicemail for the San Diego chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
"We're waiting for you. And you know what's going to happen? One day you're going to wake up and there's going to be a big, big incident," the voice on the recording states. The phone message was played in open court Tuesday.
"You're going to be in the news. It's going to be like Charlie Hebdo. Guess what? It's coming your way motherf----ers."
The caller was referring to the January shooting in Paris, France that killed 12 people at a satirical magazine known for its mockery of political and religious leaders, including the Prophet Muhammad.
A center employee referred to as "Jane Doe" testified she receives many threats as part of her job but the voicemail she heard on January 14 was “heads and shoulders above everything else” the office had received in the past.
“I was terrified,” she said explaining how she saw the area code of the caller and realized it was a San Diego number. “That person was here and could be there in minutes.”
Listen to the call here.
She said the caller was very specific and threatened to use firepower.
“I believed he was going to shoot me. Everybody in my office,” she said. “I believe that was going to happen to me at any moment and I believe that to this day.”
Under cross-examination, "Jane Doe" testified that there was no specific language in the message that stated the caller was going to come to the office with a gun but that she interpreted it as a threat.
She also testified she still works at the CAIR office and still receives threatening emails and phone calls.
Weissinger's defense attorney Tom Matthews has said his client regrets making the phone call. He said Weissinger had been drinking too much while watching coverage of the Charlie Hebdo shooting in France.
"It's a drunken rant at most," Matthews told the court Tuesday adding that there were no clear or direct threats in the phone message to the San Diego center.
A San Diego Police Det. Dean Way testified that officers found a gun case with an AR-15 and a 30-round magazine in Weissinger's home.
Det. Way also found writings in Weissinger's bedroom that were anti-Muslim and referenced President Barack Obama and Rev. Al Sharpton.
He also testified an email was sent January 15 at 2:27 a.m. from Weissinger's iPhone to Ibrahim Hooper who serves as the National Communications Director and spokesperson for the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Washington, D.C.
Hooper confirmed he received a threatening email that included several threats and derogatory terms for Muslims.
"I'll show up any day, any time with plenty of firepower to kill any and every one of you [derogatory term]," according to the email read by Way in court. "It's coming your way and Hell is coming with it."
Under cross-examination, the detective said Weissinger told officials several times that the phone call and email were stupid things to do.
The defense said there were no specific victims mentioned in the email to the D.C. chapter of CAIR.
"The whole situation, I think, indicates both the email and the phone call were nothing more than a rant, a drunken rant," said Matthews.
Judge Frederic Link ordered Weissinger to stand trial on the criminal threat charge as well as charges of possessing, buying or selling an illegal large-capacity ammunition magazine and several related charges.
He was also ordered him to stay away from "Jane Doe," CAIR and Hooper.
Weissinger faces five years in jail if convicted.