NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — A Venezuelan man has been charged with making threatening phone calls to residents of Newtown, Connecticut, days after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in December 2012, federal prosecutors said Monday.
Wilfrido Cardenas Hoffman, 30, of El Hatillo, Venezuela, was arrested Saturday at Miami International Airport while traveling to Mexico from Venezuela, the U.S. Attorney’s office said.
Prosecutors say Cardenas Hoffman made the calls to residents of Newtown two days after the shootings in which 20 first graders and six educators were killed at the school. Authorities say that in a few calls, he claimed to be the shooter and threatened to kill the person he called.
“This complaint charges that Cardenas Hoffman made dozens of threatening telephone calls to residents of Newtown when they were suffering from one of the worst tragedies in our nation’s history,” U.S. Attorney Deirdre Daly said. “Threatening such vulnerable people is reprehensible and inhuman criminal conduct. Further, it inappropriately stressed law enforcement resources at a critically demanding time.”
Cardenas Hoffman appeared Monday in court in Florida and is due back Thursday for a detention hearing. It was not immediately clear if he had an attorney. He was charged in a criminal complaint last year with transmitting threats to injure a person. The complaint was partially unsealed Monday.
Cardenas Hoffman faces up to 5 years in prison if convicted of the charge.
Authorities said that in one of the telephone calls, Cardenas Hoffman identified himself as the 20-year-old gunman.
“This is Adam Lanza. I’m gonna (expletive) kill you. You’re dead. You’re dead. You hear me? You’re dead,” the caller said, according to authorities. In another phone call, Hoffman is accused of saying: “This is Adam Lanza. I’m gonna kill you. You’re dead. With my machine gun. You’re dead (expletive).”
FBI Special Agent in Charge Patricia Ferrick said, “This arrest, a year and a half after the Newtown tragedy, speaks to the unrelenting commitment and compassion for victims and their families and sends an important warning to those inclined to commit similar crimes.”
Lanza fatally shot his mother at their Newtown home before going to the school and gunning down 26 people before killing himself.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.