Man charged with threatening Wichita mayor over mask mandate

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man who prosecutors say threatened to kidnap and kill Wichita’s mayor because he was upset with the city’s mask ordinance was charged Tuesday with three counts of criminal threat.

Meredith Dowty, 59, of Wichita, is accused of sending text messages to a city employee threatening to kill Mayor Brandon Whipple because of his role in the passage of a mask mandate to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Dowty’s bond was continued at $50,000 and his next court date was set for Nov. 5.

“He said he was going to kidnap me and slash my throat and he needed my address because I needed to see the hangman,” Whipple said Saturday after the threats were revealed.

On Monday, Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly said the anger over restrictions imposed to protect public health was getting out of hand.

“It’s imperative that we turn down the rhetoric — the anti-science, anti-mask rhetoric,” Kelly said. “We see what’s going on, what it has done here with the mayor of Wichita and elsewhere such as Michigan.”

Members of a self-appointed militia group are facing charges accusing them of plotting to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. The FBI and Michigan law enforcement have charged 14 men in connection with a domestic terrorism plot.

The state health department reported Monday that Kansas had 2,113 new confirmed and probable coronavirus cases since Friday, an increase of 3% that brought the total number of infections reported in the state to 72,968. The department also reported 13 additional COVID-19-related deaths, bringing the Kansas death toll to 872.

Meanwhile, the coronavirus claimed the life of a sixth Kansas inmate Monday. The inmate, who was serving a life sentence for four sex crime convictions from Wyandotte County, was housed at the Ellsworth Correctional Facility. He is among about 2,500 inmates and more than 300 prison workers statewide to be infected.

The Kansas Department of Corrections said in a news release that the inmate’s family has asked that his name not be released. He was 60 and had underlying medical conditions.

Copyright © 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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