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A Leominster man is being held pending a dangerousness hearing after allegedly telling a co-worker he was planning to kill his supervisor and "multiple employees at the factory to make it look like the recent Orlando, Florida, nightclub massacre," according to court documents.
[He] was arrested without incident Friday at the company where he works on Pioneer Drive on a single charge of making terroristic threats with serious public alarm, according to the court documents.
A terroristic threat is when a person threatens to commit any crime of violence against another person with the intent to terrorize.
What is a Terroristic Threat?
Terroristic threat offenses not only punish the speech but the intended result of the speech. If a state’s terroristic threat penal code only punished for the speech, then it could be subject to constitutional challenge. It is because of these challenges that states have expanded their terroristic threat statutes to include an additional component with the offending speech. Usually the second component is an intent to terrorize, harm, intimidate, or disrupt a government function. Some states will call this offense terroristic threat, which others will call the same conduct terroristic threatening or criminal threat. Regardless of the specific name used, the general proof requirements are the same. The first component is proof that something was said that can be considered threatening. Words are often subject to interpretation. This interpretation will usually be evaluated from the victim’s point of view. For example, if a husband tells his wife, “I’m going to kill you,” then the threat is fairly direct and any person, including the wife, would consider the statement threatening. Some threats are more veiled but the context of the statement could be considered a threat. The second component is the intent of the threat. People make casual threats every day. To separate the playful threats from the serious or disturbing ones, states add a component requiring that the intent of the threat to be for some specific, illegal purpose. Some intent examples used in varying states include: intent to terrorize victim, intent to disrupt public operation or event, intent to intimidate a witness, and intent to scare a police officer. Intent to terrorize is the most common type of intent required. The other types of intent will be set out in the state’s penal codes. Intent is inferred from the statement and the circumstances surrounding the statement. Many defendants do not contest that the statement was made, but rather the intent behind the statement. Once the state proves a threat and the intent of the threat, then a defendant can be convicted of terroristic threat. Because the offense punishes the threat, there is no requirement that a victim actually experience an injury. Some states, however, will require that the intended victim actually experience some level of fear associated with the threat to support a conviction for terroristic threat.