The gunman who was killed following an attempt to breach the FBI’s Cincinnati office Thursday made previous threats against the bureau, advocated for terrorism online, and may have been in Washington, D.C., for the insurrection at the Capitol.
Ricky Shiffer, 42, tried to get into the local field office Thursday morning while carrying an AR-15 rifle and a nail gun. When that plan failed, he fled the scene in his car, and was later shot dead following an hours-long standoff and an exchange of gunfire with police.
Now authorities are looking into threats he made against the FBI on social media, his self-proclaimed attendance at the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection, and his ties to the Proud Boys extremist gang at the center of the investigation.
Multiple social media profiles that appear to belong to Shiffer — Twitter and the Donald Trump-owned Truth Social among them — are chock-full of violent declarations, including a “call to arms” against the FBI, apparently in response to the bureau’s raid of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida on Monday.
“Violence is not (all) terrorism,” an account bearing his name posted to Truth Social on Tuesday. “Kill the FBI on sight, and be ready to take down other active enemies of the people.”
Shortly after Shiffer’s attempt to breach the FBI office, the same account posted a confession:
“Well, I thought I had a way through bullet proof glass, and I didn’t. If you don’t hear from me, it is true I tried attacking the F.B.I., and it’ll mean either I was taken off the internet, the F.B.I. got me.”
On Facebook, Shiffer reportedly appeared in a video from a pro-Trump rally at Black Lives Matter plaza in Washington on Jan. 5, according to The New York Times. On Twitter, he claimed in May that he “was there” for the Jan. 6 assault, in response to a photo of rioters climbing the walls at the Capitol.
In another Twitter post from May, Shiffer replied to a post from Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, calling the election “fixed.”
“Congresswoman Greene, they got away with fixing elections in plain sight,” he wrote, according to NBC News. “It’s over. The next step is the one we used in 1775.”
He also made a public call for users to arm themselves, and to reach out to the Proud Boys.
“Save ammunition, get in touch with the Proud Boys and learn how they did it in the Revolutionary War, because submitting to tyranny while lawfully protesting was never the American way.”
The extent of his ties to the political street gang weren’t immediately clear. But the Justice Department contends in criminal filings that the Proud Boys had an outsized role in the planning and execution of the Jan. 6 assault. A handful of the gang’s leaders now face seditious conspiracy charges over the plot.
Shiffer’s attempted attack Thursday lays bare the ever-thinning barrier between violent rhetoric from Trump supporters online and real-world violence. Trump himself joined right-wing media this week in railing against the FBI and the Justice Department following the search of his estate, and a deluge of violent threats from the former president’s supporters followed. The threats were serious enough that FBI Director Chris Wray and Attorney General Merrick Garland both publicly denounced them.
“I will not stand by silently when their integrity is unfairly attacked,” Garland said Thursday.
Andy Campbell is the author of “We Are Proud Boys: How a Right-Wing Street Gang Ushered in a New Era of American Extremism,” coming to bookstores on Sept. 20.