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Houlton man cleared after legislator's threat report

Rep. Adam Jarchow, R-Balsam Lake, had his staff report a Facebook post to Capitol police last month. The author of the post, a Houlton man, was later cleared in the case. File photo

A western Wisconsin lawmaker cried foul last week after authorities determined a Houlton man's social media post wasn't the threat he believed it to be.

Rep. Adam Jarchow took to Twitter to voice his disgust with Wisconsin State Capitol Police after authorities there opted not to press charges. The flap stemmed from a Facebook post by Garry Fay, who took umbrage with a post of Jarchow posing with his AR-15 rifle shortly after the Florida school massacre.

Fay took to Facebook in response, with a post that read, "Is he saying he wants us to visit his children's school with AR 15s and lots of magazines to shoot off a few rounds to prove we love the 2nd amendment as much as he does? Then we should shoot up his church and home and finally go gonzo on Congress itself?"

According to a police report, Jarchow had his office staff report the incident. An investigation concluded without any charges being sought.

Jarchow then sent off a series of tweets criticizing the agency.

"I guess now you can threaten the family of public officials so long as when the cops ask about it, you say 'just kidding.' Embarrassed by Capitol police," Jarchow tweeted Thursday, March 8.

Capitol police falls under the Department of Administration, a spokesman for which said the agency "takes all threats against public officials seriously and handles each one on a case by case basis.

"Capitol police investigated the incident reported by Rep. Jarchow's office and determined the Facebook post was not a credible threat."

Jarchow did not return a message seeking comment on the matter Tuesday, March 13.

Fay, reached Tuesday, said he wasn't kidding about anything. The 60-year-old said he was trying to prove a point that Jarchow's support of the AR-15 rifle felt threatening.

"How does he think America feels when our children are at risk and he's out flaunting his weapon like that?" Fay said.

But he said any interpretation of his post as a threat was incorrect. It wasn't meant to be, he said.

"I don't think that I'm a risk to him or me or anyone else," Fay said, adding he's an army veteran who doesn't own guns and wouldn't harm others.

He sounded a similar note in a phone interview Capitol police conducted with him.

"Fay also stated he has no intentions of doing any of what was in his post," according to the report. "Fay was apologetic about what he posted."

Jarchow, a Balsam Lake Republican who announced earlier this month that he won't seek re-election in the fall, called Capitol police a "bozo operation," saying he never heard from them about the investigation outcome.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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