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JACKSON, Miss. – A Mississippi man who threatened to kill the state’s only Black congressman and his staff was indicted on federal charges of making a threat against a public official.

Newton Wade Townsend, 52, was indicted by a federal grand jury and charged with making a threat against a public official and his staffers, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

“A violent threat against a public official is a serious federal crime,” U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst said in a statement. “The United States Attorney’s Office will continue to protect victims, prosecute those fueled by hate who seek to intimidate and terrorize others, and always ensure that justice is done.”

Townsend identified the target of his alleged threat by the initials B.T. Investigators said Townsend called Bennie Thompson, the only Black legislator and only Democrat from Mississippi, June 1 and threatened to kill him and his African American staffers, The New York Times reported.

“I am happy the investigation resulted in the arrest of Mr. Townsend,” Thompson said in a statement Wednesday. “This should serve as a lesson that anyone who chooses to threaten to murder members of Congress will be prosecuted.”

Thompson, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, is the longest-serving member of Mississippi’s congressional delegation after he won a 1993 special election, The Associated Press reported.

Townsend’s arraignment was scheduled for Thursday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

bennie thompson

FILE PHOTO: A Mississippi man who threatened to kill Bennie Thompson, the state’s only Black congressman and his staff, was indicted on federal charges of making a threat against a public official.