Winter Park man charged with threatening congressman appears before judge

by: Mark Boxley, Jeff Levkulich Updated:

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WINTER PARK, Fla. - A 41-year-old Winter Park man who was arrested Friday on accusations that he left a threatening voicemail for a U.S. congressman appeared in federal court in Orlando Monday.

Charles Zachary Howard was arrested on live TV Friday as he was being interviewed by Channel 9’s Jeff Levkulich outside his home.

At the time, Howard was incredulous about the accusation that he threatened to kill a congressman, and denied ever making a call.

Since his arrest Friday, investigators have accused Howard of making dozens of calls to members of Congress, though the one he was charged with Friday was the only one involving a threat.

“I suggest you prepare for the battle (expletive) and the apocalypse,” the voicemail said, according to a federal criminal complaint. “Cause we’re going to hunt your (expletive) down, wrap a rope around your neck and hang you from a lamp post.”

“I didn’t threaten anybody,” Howard said Friday when confronted with the federal complaint.

He reasoned that he hadn’t done anything wrong, because if he had, law enforcement would have already arrested him.

“There’s two agents over there. Why don’t they come arrest me? Why aren’t they arresting me?” he asked. “Because I haven’t done anything wrong. That’s why.”

Three minutes later, agents pulled up to Howard’s home.

“We have a warrant for your arrest,” one agent told him.

“You have a warrant for my arrest?” Howard asked. “OK.”

He was put into a Seminole County Sheriff’s Office cruiser and driven to jail.

Howard was charged with transmitting in interstate commerce a threat to injure the person of another.

Sen. Bill Nelson said he’s received similar calls and there are rare times when police protection is called in as a result.

“In some cases, I have some kind of police security protection if I’m out in the public, but that rarely occurs, very rarely occurs,” he said.

Howard is scheduled to have a preliminary hearing in Orlando federal court Tuesday to determine if he can be released on bond.