A Michigan man espousing white nationalist beliefs, who avoided trial in Montana last year after threatening to kill Jews and school children, has been arrested on three new criminal charges, including aggravated stalking.
David Joseph Lenio, 30, is accused of threatening and engaging in willful “repeated or continuous harassment” of Jonathan Hutson, a Maryland anti-gun violence advocate whose Twitter-sleuthing led to Lenio’s arrest in 2015 by the FBI.
Lenio is now charged with aggravated stalking and use of a computer to commit a crime, both felonies under Michigan law, and malicious use of telecommunication services, a misdemeanor. An increased bond of $500,000 was set Monday for Lenio, who works as a cook in Grand Rapids, where he was arrested on Friday. .
He was arrested in February 2015 in Kalispell, Mont., after Hutson alerted state and federal authorities to a series of Tweets Lenio had made. The former high school cross-country athlete tweeted he wanted to execute 30 or more grade school children, to exceed the number killed at Sandy Hook in December 2012.
He also posted tweets about shooting up a synagogue, boasting that he wanted to put two bullets “in the head” of a rabbi or Jewish leader. He additionally posted comments about going on a killing rampage until “cops take me out.”
Despite the serious charges he faced in Montana, Flathead County Attorney Ed Corrigan offered Lenio “deferred prosecution” just days before trial. Under that deal, the Montana charges against Leno would be dropped in 2018 if he broke no laws, including contact with Hutson.
The new criminal charges in Michigan allege that between Jan. 1 and Feb. 22, Lenio used social media to “terrorize, frighten, intimidate and harass” Hutson in violation of the Montana court order.
Following his arrest Friday in Michigan, Lenio also was served with a “temporary peace order” issued last week by a judge in Anne Arundel County, Md. That court order legally restrains Lenio from contacting Hutson in any matter or committing or threatening to commit any act that would cause serious bodily harm.
In a statement provided to Hatewatch, Hutson said he responded as a “concerned citizen” two years ago when he came across Lenio’s Twitter threats “to shoot school kids and rabbis.”
“Now, I more deeply understand their fears because I'm a target, too,” Hutson said.
Since his release by Montana authorities, Lenio has returned to Grand Rapids and tweeted his “vision of shooting 99 school kids,” Hutson said.
Lenio also has tweeted to and re-tweeted the posts of white nationalists Richard Spencer and David Duke. He has re-tweeted Matthew Heimbach, head of the white nationalist, anti-Semitic Traditionalist Worker’s Party, and praised mass shooters Dylann Roof and Anders Breivik.
Lenio said that he would like to see a monument to Cliven Bundy, the antigovernment Nevada rancher, and tweeted: "I [heart] terrorists."
Hutson said he personally has been directly threatened and libeled by Lenio’s posts and that’s why he had to seek a protective order in his home state of Maryland.
“This is why it was so wrong that Montana's justice system failed Lenio and school children and Jewish communities there and in Michigan,” Hutson said.
“Mass shootings and true threats to commit them are attacks on all of us. They rip at the bonds of love that bind us together [and] create climates of fear that too often lead to hatred and suspicion,” Hutson said.
Hutson wrote about the Montana case in a lengthy article for The Public Eye, published last summer by Political Research Associates. In that piece and in interviews with Hatewatch, Hutson expressed the view that Lenio — the progeny of “white privilege” — received “slap-on-the-hand” treatment in Montana because of racial double standards in the criminal justice system.
Well before the election of Donald Trump, Hutson pointed out that Lenio’s private investment banker father, Remos Lenio, “shared close business, social, and philanthropic ties with the billionaire Dick and Betsy DeVos family of Grand Rapids.” After Trump’s election, Betsy DeVos was appointed Secretary of Education.
“I doubt that a Native American or Muslim would receive the same treatment after threatening to massacre more kids than the 20 who died in Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown,” Hutson told Hatewatch.
Lenio has tweeted what could be viewed as taunts to the new education secretary, suggesting at one point a “school shootings tour” of the United States. In his tweets, he asked DeVos if she would pledge to be unarmed and have unarmed escorts when she visits schools.