The FBI confirmed Friday that it has joined local authorities in investigating three bullets fired into the Montgomery County Democratic Committee office in Norristown hours before the presidential inauguration on Wednesday.
No one was inside the office at the time. The incident occurred roughly a week after the office received a threatening email regarding “a stolen election.”
“It is not known if the threatening email is related to this incident,” Norristown Police Chief Mark Talbot in a statement Thursday.
Though authorities have not released the contents of the email, Joe Foster, chair of the Montco Democratic Committee, shared some additional details with WHYY News.
The writer made disparaging comments about the Democratic Party and told the recipients of the email to be careful around the office, Foster said. The writer also cited then-President Donald Trump, and warned the committee that “random acts of violence are hard to detect.” Unlike the police, Foster has already concluded that the email and the bullets have some connection.
“I personally believe that they are related,” Foster said.
Upon receiving the email, the organization decided to report it to local authorities on Jan. 8, Foster said.
As of now, authorities are not exactly sure when the bullets were fired. They believe that the incident occurred between 6:30 p.m. Jan. 19 and 7:30 a.m. Jan. 20.
“Detectives are in the process of gathering and reviewing nearby security camera footage,” Norristown Chief Talbot said.
The shots were not discovered until Brian Levy, executive director of the committee, arrived at the office in the afternoon to pick up mail.
“As he was walking by the front window, there were the three bullet holes,” Foster said.
He then contacted the local police and the district attorney. The Norristown Police Department, the Montgomery County Detectives, and the FBI are investigating.
This was not the first time the office received messages of violence before, but they were never this specific. That’s why the matter was handed it over to the police, according to Foster.
“But what bothers me a little bit is that none of this is in a vacuum,” Foster said.
He pointed to what he believes are parallels — the insurrection at the Capitol, the Biden campaign bus incident in Texas, and foiled plots to kidnap governors — as frightening consequences of “a sense of permission” through national rhetoric.
“That is the scariest part of it all, that they have a sense of permission to do this and behave this way. And it’s not to say that they wouldn’t have on their own, but it’s less likely I think,” Foster said.
Foster said he has questions for GOP officials who spread disinformation about a stolen election. He wants to know if they actually believe it themselves or whether they are just responding to their base.
“Either way, it does contribute to a sense of anarchy in this union,” Foster said, acknowledging that “there are plenty of Republicans who have backed off from this and have condemned it.”
In the meantime, the Democratic committee is taking additional precautions to keep its staff safe.
“We’re installing cameras around the building to prevent this from happening again … or at least to have a recording of it,” Foster said.
The Norristown Police have also offered to send an officer to act as security for future events.
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