NORRISTOWN — A Worcester man claimed to be “going through a stressful time” related to the pandemic and “to the theft of the election,” when he emailed threats to and fired gunshots at the Montgomery County Democratic Committee headquarters in Norristown, according to court documents.
Anthony F. Nero, 48, of the 2600 block of Bean Road, was arraigned before District Court Judge Richard H. Welsh on charges of terroristic threats, terrorism, firearms not to be carried without a license and recklessly endangering other persons in connection with alleged incidents that occurred between Jan. 7 and Jan. 20 at the party’s headquarters along East Airy Street.
Welsh set Nero’s bail at $50,000 and Nero faces a March 5 preliminary hearing on the charges before District Court Judge Margaret Hunsicker.
County District Attorney Kevin R. Steele and Norristown Police Chief Mark E. Talbot announced Nero’s arrest on Friday.
The investigation began on Jan. 8, when Norristown police received information that a threatening email, submitted under the name “Silent Majority,” was received the day before at the Democratic Committee headquarters located at 21 E. Airy St., according to a criminal complaint filed by Norristown Detective James Angelucci.
The email read: “Just wanted to let your offices know that you should probably beef up security. With this stolen election and coup d’etat, violence is the only language you bloodsuckers understand. (Expletive) you and your BLM (expletive) along with ANTIFA. We WILL end this insurrection. Again, TRUMP YOU!! You (expletive) traitors. Random acts of violence are difficult to investigate. Have fun.”
Officials at the Democratic offices told police they didn’t know who submitted the email and “expressed concerns for the safety of the building and employees” in light of the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, according to the criminal complaint.
As the investigation into the source of the email was under way, at 4:38 p.m. Jan. 20, Norristown police responded to the Democratic headquarters after a party official reported arriving there and discovering bullet holes in the front window, according to court documents. Police observed “three bullet holes in the front window of the office” and were able to retrieve two projectiles from a desk that was located inside near the window, court papers indicate.
Investigators subsequently determined the projectiles were fired from a .45-caliber handgun.
No one was injured during the shooting and the office reportedly was unoccupied at the time of the gunfire.
With help from the FBI, Pennsylvania State Police and county detectives, investigators traced the internet address related to the Jan. 7 email to Nero’s residence and cell phone. A firearms check also revealed that Nero was the owner of a .45-caliber handgun, court papers indicate.
On Feb. 17, detectives, armed with a search warrant, made contact with Nero in the area of the 200 block of West DeKalb Street. At that time, Nero allegedly told detectives the firearm was located in the cargo area of his Lexus vehicle.
Detectives found a tactical bag in the cargo area and inside located a .45-caliber Springfield Armory 1911-A1 firearm in a brown leather holster, according to the arrest affidavit. The weapon was found in the “cocked” position, loaded with one round in the chamber and five additional rounds in the magazine, detectives alleged.
During an interview by investigators, Nero admitted to emailing the threatening comment to the Democratic Committee and also admitted to firing his gun into the committee headquarters three times as he drove by the office during the late evening hours, according to the criminal complaint.
Nero stated that he fired the rounds into the building “because I am going through a stressful time in my life losing my family this whole COVID thing shutting down the country the abundant evidence available relating to the theft of the election,” according to the arrest affidavit.
If he’s convicted of all the charges at a trial, Nero faces a possible maximum sentence of 9½ to 19 years in prison.
County Assistant Chief of Trials Kathleen McLaughlin is handling the prosecution.