A Texas drifter threatened to kill “every black person at the Social Security office” if he didn’t get his benefits, according to a guilty plea filed in federal court this week.
It all began in January 2019, when Dewitt Chandler, 40, contacted a Social Security Administration call center to ask why he hadn’t received his check. During the conversation, an apparently dissastified Chandler told the rep helping him that he would “find [his] fucking office and cut [his] fucking balls off,” say court documents. The rep handed the call off to his supervisor, who tried to defuse the situation.
Chandler, however, wasn’t having any of it.
“If I don’t get my fucking money on the first, I’m going to the social security office and I’m killing everyone over there,” he is said to have told the supervisor. “And I’m gonna hold you responsible, and I’m gonna find out who you are, and I’m gonna fuckin’ kill you! Do you understand who the fuck I am bitch? I want my motherfuckin’ money bitch! Right now!....If I fuckin hear that I don’t get my motherfuckin’ money on the first, I’m gonna kill every black person at the Social Security Office, right across the street from BET bitch, you hear me now bitch?...where’s my fuckin’ money you pedophile incest n****r!...If it ain’t up there on the first I’m gonna fuckin’ kill you bitch.”
With the issue still unresolved, Chandler called back. This time, a different service rep explained to Chandler that his benefits were suspended because he hadn’t provided the Social Security office with a current address verification. When the worker asked Chandler to confirm where he lived, he “became agitated and began yelling over the phone,” say court filings.
When the woman on the line asked Chandler to “calm down,” he responded, “This isn’t a fuckin’ joke.”
“I don’t give a fuck if you call the FBI, listen to me right now…hear what I fuckin’ tell you, if this doesn’t work out my fuckin’ way…I’m gonna fuckin’ kill everybody in that whole fuckin’ office,” continued Chandler, who is described in court records as homeless. “If I have to fucking find you, I swear to fucking Christ I’ll hurt you…you don’t wanna die, turn on my money…It’s on 9th Street, I’m in Washington, I’ll be happy to go over there and just start stabbing people…I’m gonna walk into that office tomorrow and kill everyone in there.”
Social Security employees aren’t alone in this type of attack on federal workers. Public health workers battling the COVID-19 pandemic have faced a seemingly-constant barrage of physical threats, as have census workers. Recently, the Centers for Disease Control pulled its COVID teams out of Minnesota, following "a series of troubling incidents" that included being accosted by armed men yelling racial epithets. Last year, a Government Accountability Office report said violent threats against workers at the Interior Department’s three public lands agencies were on the rise, with employees receiving at least 360 menacing communications between 2013 and 2017.
Investigators from the Social Security Administration's Office of the Inspector didn’t have much trouble identifying Chandler, as he had been calling about his own account when he made the threats. The agents found him at the Arlington County jail, where he had since been detained on an unrelated charge.
“Yeah, I cussed those people out,” he confessed. “I said I will kill them,” adding that he was “not sorry a bit.”
Chandler was indicted on charges of making threatening interstate communications, and arrested in April by officers from the Federal Protective Service, an agency within the Department of Homeland Security. He remains at the Alexandria Detention Center (ADC) in Virginia pending sentencing, which is scheduled for Jan. 2021. Since there are no known cases of COVID-19 right now at ADC—unlike the D.C. city jail, which has had dozens—prosecutors argued that Chandler would remain reasonably safe from infection.
Chandler’s sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 12, 2021. He faces up to 20 years, but will likely receive between 30 and 37 months in prison and a fine ranging from $10,000 to $95,000.
Carlos Vanegas, Chandler’s court appointed attorney, did not respond to a request for comment.
A situation like Chandler’s can normally be rectified by a sit-down with law enforcement and doesn’t usually result in prosecution, said Dennis Franks, a retired FBI special agent who now works as a private investigator in Texas.
“It is obvious that this was taken extremely seriously, and considered a viable threat,” Franks told The Daily Beast. “Hopefully this person will get some help.”