Man who sent death threats to Anchorage Assembly members in custody

The Anchorage Assembly chambers at the Z. J. Loussac Public Library in Anchorage.
The Anchorage Assembly chambers at the Z. J. Loussac Public Library in Anchorage. (Staff photo)

A man who sent death threats to members of the Anchorage Assembly was arrested on Wednesday. In text messages sent to South Anchorage Assemblyman John Weddleton, 39-year-old Richard Leemon Joe threatened to “come after” assembly members and anyone else who might be nearby with an AR-15 rifle, according to charging documents. Joe also referred to the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol earlier this month in his threat.

According to the charging document, Joe directly threatened Weddleton several times in the messages. Weddleton told police in addition to being offensive, the messages left him concerned for his safety and the safety of others. 

Last week the Assembly debated and ultimately passed a resolution condemning the violence at the Capitol insurrection, which was fueled by pro-Trump extremists.

Assembly meetings have become increasingly fraught in recent months primarily fueled by some community members’ opposition to public health mandates and closures. Meetings are frequently met with protests and interrupted by outbursts from the audience. A few weeks ago, people protested from their cars outside the homes of Acting Mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson and Assemblyman Christopher Constant, honking their horns and shouting. 

According to the municipal attorney’s office, Joe is currently in custody at the Anchorage Correctional Complex. A pre-trial conference is set for March 1.