"You are taking ours, we are taking yours." That was just part of a threatening message left on the voicemails of two U.S. Congress members. Federal authorities have charged a Grand Island man in connection with those messages.
The federal lawmakers who received the recorded threats are not from Western New York. Although not identified by name, they are representatives from the states of Louisiana and Washington. Federal prosecutors have charged 63-year-old Carlos Bayon with interstate communication of a threat.
The message left at the offices of both lawmakers, according to the criminal complaint, went as follows: "Hey listen, this message is for you and the people that sent you there. You are taking ours, we are taking yours. Anytime, anywhere. We know where they are. We are not going to feed them sandwiches, we are going to feed them lead. Make no mistake, you will pay. Ojo por ojo, diente po diente (the Spanish phrase for 'an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth'). This is our law and we are the majority. Have a good day."
Investigators say U.S. Capitol Police traced the calls to Bayon's residence. Gary Loeffert, Special Agent-in-Charge of the FBI's Buffalo Office, explained that Capitol Police have jurisdiction and responsibility for Congress members' safety not only in the District of Columbia but throughout the nation, including Buffalo. Every threat, he added, is taken seriously.
"There's a lot of rhetoric out there these days. There are a lot of people passionate about what they believe in," said Loeffert. "But, and this is important, constitutional protections do not extend to threatening phone calls."
Federal officials would not elaborate on a possible motive but James P. Kennedy, the US Attorney for the Western District of New York, shared Loeffert's assertion that the threats are being taken seriously.
"I should indicate that earlier this week, Capitol Police together with the FBI ... obtained and executed search warrants at the defendant's residence on Grand Island," Kennedy said. "While the items recovered during the search warrant haven't been disclosed publicly, I will say they are very concerning. We're convinced this defendant's threats were credible."
Kennedy also would not answer questions, asked as a follow up to his comments about the undisclosed evidence, as to whether Bayon was acting alone or may have gang connections.
"At this point, stay tuned. I know there'll be future court proceedings at which some of that information, in all likelihood, will be revealed," he said. "I'm just not at liberty to disclose that at this time."
If convicted, Bayon faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.