Former Marine Detained After Alleged Facebook Threats
(CHESTERFIELD, Va.) -- A 26-year-old former Marine has been ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation after being detained for alleged threats he made on Facebook. Brandon Raub, who lives in Chesterfield, Va., was detained last Thursday after being questioned by law enforcement about his postings.
“Sharpen up my axe; I’m here to sever heads.” Raub posted to Facebook on Aug. 13, 2012. The post appears to be a lyric from the band Swollen Members and its song “Bring Me Down.”
The case has pitted First Amendment freedoms against potential security concerns. Raub, who served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, was questioned by the FBI, U.S. Secret Service and Chesterfield County Police last Thursday and was then taken into custody by the Chesterfield County Police Department. At a court hearing on Monday Raub was ordered to be detained for mental evaluation for 30 days. Court records on Raub only showed traffic violations. A Facebook group supporting Raub already has over 5,800 supporters.
“For government officials to not only arrest Brandon Raub for doing nothing more than exercising his First Amendment rights but to actually force him to undergo psychological evaluations and detain him against his will goes against every constitutional principle this country was founded upon. This should be a wake-up call to Americans that the police state is here,” said John Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute, which is serving as counsel for Raub.
“I feel like he’s being unconstitutionally detained,” said Raub’s mother, Cathleen Thomas, in an interview with ABC News. Thomas said her son was a good student and an Eagle Scout who never had any mental health problems. Thomas said that after his six years in the Marines, she never noticed any signs of post-traumatic stress disorder.
“He’s a good kid, he’s a great kid,” Thomas said.
Lawyers representing Raub said they expect to file an appeal of the 30-day detention order and are trying to prevent Raub from being moved more than three hours away to a medical facility in Salem, Va.
“After speaking to Raub, officers believed him to be in need of further evaluation. Chesterfield officers at the scene contacted Chesterfield Mental Health Crisis Intervention. Crisis workers recommended that police take Raub into custody and bring him in for evaluation,” Col. Thierry Dupuis, chief of the Chesterfield Police Department, said in a statement.
Virginia law allows police to detain people for mental evaluation under emergency circumstances.
“Raub was placed in handcuffs after he resisted officers’ attempts to take him into custody. Raub was evaluated by a Chesterfield mental health official, who determined that he should be held under a temporary detention order and transported to John Randolph Medical Center for additional evaluation.” Col. Dupuis said.
Raub’s postings on Facebook seem to focus on several conspiracy theories related to the 9/11 attacks and what he says is a coming revolution.
“If you are my friend, you deserve to know the truth. This world is secretly run by a shadow organization of people who among other things enjoy raping children. Some of [sic] leaders were involved with the bombing of the twin towers. It was a sacrifice and a complete inside job. Also the Bush’s [sic] are very sick twisted problems. I believe they have a secret Castle in Colorado where they have been raping and sacrificing children for many years. Think I’m crazy? Think again,” Raub wrote in a July 28, 2012 Facebook post.
“Dear Friends, I know many of you think I’m going crazy, and are wondering just why I have been posting the things I have been posting. I don’t have the energy to explain. Just know that a new beginning is coming,” Raub posted on August 11.
On Aug. 7, 2012 Raub posted to his profile a picture of men in robes by a lake with the caption, "Do you know that world leaders sacrifice children in robes?”
According to federal law enforcement officials the FBI received several complaints from concerned individuals about Raub’s postings. Certain other Facebook postings that were discussed at a court hearing on Monday for Raub focused on messages allegedly from a closed Facebook group that was not part of Raub’s public Facebook profile.
ABC News was not able to obtain access to those postings.
Following several high-profile mass shootings the FBI says it needed to interview Raub.
“It would be horrible for us not to respond to reports and complaints about threats from the public,” Dee Rybiski, spokeswoman for the FBI Richmond field office, said when contacted by ABC News.
Rybiski said that the FBI did not detain Raub despite the assertion from his lawyer that he was arrested by the FBI.
“When we left we had not arrested him, we did not touch him, we did not detain him. There are no charges pending,” Rybiski said.
The Richmond Times Dispatch quoted an Internet posting by a former platoon commander, Sean Lawlor, who served with Raub in Iraq. The paper said that Lawlor called Raub an “excellent Marine” but quoted Lawlor as also saying, “Knowing the man that he is, I believe that he fully intended to act on the threats he was posting … We may never know, but the fact that law enforcement intervened may have kept Brandon from doing something extremely destructive.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio