A 19-year-old who was busted with a car full of guns and explosives—including a semi-automatic rifle—debated killing Joe Biden online, traveling to a Wendy’s mere miles from the former vice president’s home and penning a checklist that ended in “execute,” federal authorities allege in court documents.
Alexander Hillel Treisman, originally from Seattle, was indicted by a federal grand jury in September on a child pornography charge after authorities stumbled upon his abandoned van at a Third Bank in Kannapolis, North Carolina. Inside, officers with the Kannapolis Police Department found a trove of weapons, including an AR-15 style rifle behind the driver’s seat, a canister of Tannerite, an explosive material, and more than $500,000.
According to court documents obtained by The Daily Beast, Treisman’s arrest spurred a shocking investigation that uncovered his affinity for mass shootings, racist ideologies, and interest in killing the Democratic presidential nominee. Treisman quickly became the target of a Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTF) investigation which included agents from multiple field offices around the country.
“Should I kill joe biden?” Treisman allegedly wrote on April 15, 2020, alongside an image posted on iFunny, according to a search-warrant application. The application also details how the 19-year-old went to Wilmington, Delaware—Biden’s hometown—on at least one occasion and discussed his need to “save” Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
The U.S. Attorney’s office in North Carolina declined The Daily Beast’s request for comment. An attorney representing Treisman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Authorities say on May 28, 2020, KPD officers responded to a report at about 11 a.m. of an abandoned vehicle in the bank’s parking lot about 30 minutes outside of Charlotte. Peering through the white van’s windows, officers saw several guns, explosive materials, “books about survival, bomb making, improvised weapons, and Islam; and a large amount of cash banded and sealed in bank bags, estimated to be hundreds of thousands of dollars,” according to the search-warrant application.
Hours later, Treisman was arrested for carrying concealed weapons when he returned to the bank to retrieve his van. The application states that during an initial search of the teenager’s second car uncovered several more weapons and three driver licenses from Washington, California, and Florida.
In an interview, authorities questioned Treisman on the disturbing material they found inside his van—including hand drawings of swastikas and a plane crashing into a building.
“Treisman conveyed to the interviewing officers that he had an interest in terrorist incidents and mass shootings, and that he watched YouTube videos and read Wikipedia articles about such incidents,” the search warrant application states, adding that his friends and family had stopped speaking to him due to his “remarks and jokes” about mass shootings and the 9/11 terror attacks.
The application details how the teenager traveled across the country, picking up firearms along the way, all while allegedly expressing on social media his desire to “execute” people he hates. Treisman, however, denied any real attempts to harm anyone and claimed to authorities “all online threats were part of a persona.”
During their investigation, JTTF investigators also uncovered an iFunny account believed to be associated with Treisman. iFunny is a social media platform where users can post and comment on memes and had, at the time, become known as a hub for white nationalists.
In one conversation with another user, Treisman allegedly admitted he “was going to do a columbine for a while.” When the other user chastised the teenager for wanting to “harm the innocent,” Treisman replied: “My hatred is for the complacent American people who will turn u in for their own satisfaction. But aside from former goals, my eyes on the future. If anything I have to save bernie.”
Investigators concluded the account was referring to Sen. Sanders, who dropped out of the presidential race on April 8. Days after Sanders’ announcement, the search-warrant application states Treisman allegedly posted another meme on iFunny with a caption questioning whether he should murder Biden. Then, on May 3, investigators state, financial transactions and cell phone records show Treisman was within four miles of Biden’s home in Delaware and had stopped at a local Wendy’s.
In a May 30 interview with investigators, one possible associate of Treisman described the young man as an “outcast that seemed to be driving around the country.” While he remained in contact with Treisman for a short time, the associate said he was “put off” by the teenager’s “far-right racist comments”—including using racial slurs and talking about killing Black Americans.
After obtaining a search warrant for Treisman’s phone in June, JTTF investigators also discovered a video in which the teenager can be heard musing about how “awesome” it would be to hijack an airplane and fly it into a building. The phone showed the teenager had searched for Biden’s address and looked up, “does the vp get secret service for life.”
Another search warrant revealed a screenshot of a note taken on May 16 that investigators determined “was consistent with a surveillance and attack plan connected to a possible threat against Joe Biden or other targeted act of violence.” At the end of the note, the search warrant states, was the word “execute.” Another Oct. 15, 2019, note in Treisman’s phone described a plan to execute a mass shooting at a mall food court either on Christmas or Black Friday, the search warrant application states.
Investigators say that Treiman’s phone also revealed a trove of “sexually explicit videos and images of minors.”
“Child pornography was found on eight of these devices (three laptops, three hard drives, an additional cell phone, and a flash drive),” an Oct. 6 detention memo states. “A total of 1,248 videos and 6,721 images of child pornography content were found on Defendant’s devices, in addition to 637 videos and images of child pornography containing sadism and/or masochism content.”
The detention memo also noted that Treisman has no prior criminal history and “had been diagnosed with Asperger syndrome at age twelve.” But despite the diagnosis, court records state Treisman “denied any mental health conditions” during a May 29 law enforcement interview. He was denied bail on Oct. 6 pending trial and is being held in Durham County, North Carolina.