The family of a father who was shot dead in an FBI raid over threats to assassinate US President Joe Biden have broken their silence, insisting the self-described “MAGA Trumper” was exercising his First Amendment rights online.
Utah man Craig Robertson was killed when special agents tried to serve the 75-year-old with an arrest warrant at his Provo home early on Wednesday, just days after he’d posted on Facebook he planned to dust off his sniper rifle ahead of Biden’s visit to the state.
His relatives told the New York Post that Robertson — who they described as a “firearm enthusiast, collector and gunsmith” — loved the US “with all his heart” but had become increasingly disappointed by the Biden administration.
“He was understandably frustrated and distraught by the present and ongoing erosions to our constitutionally protected freedoms and the rights of free citizens wrought by what he, and many others in this nation, observed to be a corrupt and overreaching government,” the statement said.
“As an elderly — and largely homebound — man, there was very little he could do but exercise his First Amendment right to free speech and voice his protest in what has become the public square of our age — the internet and social media.
“Though his statements were intemperate at times, he has never, and would never, commit any act of violence against another human being over a political or philosophical disagreement.”
The family described the raid as a “senseless and tragic killing” and said Robertson, who was 136kg and largely homebound, as a “kind and generous person” who was active in his local church congregation.
It comes after neighbours recalled Robertson as a “decent guy” who had cared for his blind son who was in his 50s.
They described him as a frail and elderly man and said he walked with the aid of a hand-carved stick.
Though he regularly carried guns, they said he didn’t appear to be a threat.
“There’s no way that he was driving from here to Salt Lake City, setting up a rifle and taking a shot at the president — 100 per cent no way,” neighbour Andrew Maunder said outside the church across from Robertson’s street.
Travis Lee Clark, who said he knew Robertson for years from working at their church ward together, was surprised he was considered a serious threat.
“He was a boomer, and he was very political and sometimes made off-colour jokes … but nothing that indicated it was a threat,” Clark said.
At the time of Wednesday’s deadly FBI raid, Robertson was facing charges of interstate threats, a threat against the president and influencing, impeding and retaliating against federal law enforcement officers by threat.
The charges stemmed from a post Robertson made on Monday saying he had heard Biden was coming to the Beehive State and he planned to dig out his camouflage suit and begin “cleaning the dust off the M24 sniper rifle,” according to court documents.
In a slew of other social media posts, Robertson had previously referenced a “presidential assassination” and also posted threats against Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, US Attorney-General Merrick Garland and New York Attorney-General Letitia James, authorities said.
“The time is right for a presidential assassination or two. First Joe then Kamala!!!” Robertson allegedly wrote in a September 2022 Facebook post included in the court documents.
Robertson was armed when FBI agents went to his home first thing on Wednesday morning to serve the warrants, law enforcement sources said.
Biden, who was briefed in the wake of the raid, flew to Utah on Wednesday ahead of a Thursday visit to a Veterans Affairs hospital in Salt Lake City.
This article originally appeared on the New York Post and was reproduced with permission.