Winter Park resident Richard D. Clayton, 26, is being questioned about comments he allegedly posted to social media that appeared to threaten Walmart shoppers with a mass shooting.
“Three more days of probation left then I get my AR-15 [semi-automatic rifle] back,” Clayton posted to Facebook on August 6, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). Clayton added, “Don’t go to Walmart next week.”
FDLE claims Clayton’s Facebook post was published just one day after the El Paso massacre in Texas. Officers arrested Clayton north of Orlando to help prevent a copy-cat shooting. The local Walmart store in El Paso was the scene of a deadly shooting that killed 22 people and injured 26 more. A 21-year-old suspect in that shooting has already been arrested.
“Investigators say Clayton appears to believe in the white supremacist ideology and has a history of posting threats on Facebook using fictitious accounts,” FDLE said on Facebook.
FDLE arrests Richard Clayton for written threats after an investigation by FDLE, FBI’s JTTF, Winter Park PD.
Clayton wrote on Facebook, “3 more days of probation left then I get my AR-15 back. Don’t go to Walmart next week.” #SeeSomethingSaySomething https://t.co/Hm8BA6sgcl pic.twitter.com/7LAjVQq7aN
— FDLE (@fdlepio) August 10, 2019
The El Paso shooting came just hours before another mass shooting outside of Ned Peppers in downtown Dayton, Ohio on August 4. Connor Betts, 24, reportedly opened fire on crowds of people, killing nine including his own sister Megan Betts, 22, and injuring at least 27 others.
A Joint Terrorism Task Force comprising FDLE, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Winter Park Police Department investigated and charged Clayton. His social media post was reported to the FBI the same day it went live. He was subsequently charged with allegedly making written threats to kill or do bodily harm.
“Law enforcement has zero-tolerance for threats being made and will utilize the full force of the Joint Terrorism Task Force to ensure the public’s safety,” FDLE said on Facebook.
An FDLE spokesperson confirmed Clayton is not on probation and appears to have been exposed to extreme views on racial diversity, according to the Associated Press.
There are other theories about what causes mass shootings. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is concerned. He suggests there may be subliminal factors in video games that could make it more appealing to resolve personal problems through a mass shooting.
“Video games dehumanize individuals to have a game of shooting individuals or others,” McCarthy said in a televised interview on Fox News’ Sunday Morning Futures program. “We watched from studies shown before, of what it does to individuals. When you look at these photos of how it took place, you can see the actions within video games.”
clip here — it’s very much jumping off Tx. Lt. Gov Dan Patrick’s comments to F&F earlier pic.twitter.com/J8PqvNtvz0
— John Whitehouse (@existentialfish) August 4, 2019
Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick (R) shares these concerns and urges authorities to “condemn” video games for the “evil” they propagate.
“How long are we going to let, for example, and ignore at the federal level, particularly where they can do something about the video game industry?” Patrick said on Fox & Friends.
— Just Sayin (@WildmansWord) August 5, 2019
The alleged El Paso shooter has released a manifesto on the internet that discusses his desire to live out his “super-soldier fantasy,” according to Patrick.
“What are we as a nation to say—that we’re going to tolerate and allow a website that lets killers post their manifesto before—and to be posted after the act?” he said. “We have to take a long look at who we are as a nation and where we want to go and what we’re going to tolerate from social media and from video games.”
He does not believe the guns themselves are evil and suggests violent video games are spreading a kind of demonic force.
“This was maybe a video to this evil demon—a video game to him,” he said. “We’ve always had guns; we’ve always had evil … I see a video game industry that teaches young people to kill.”
Associated Press contributed to this article.
Florida Man Arrested After Threatening to Use Assault Rifle at Walmart