A Utah man fatally shot by the FBI on Wednesday was armed when FBI agents confronted him at his home, a senior law enforcement official told NBC News. Authorities said he pointed his weapon at agents and did not respond to their commands.
Officials said the FBI fatally shot the man, who was identified in charging documents as Craig Deleeuw Robertson, as they were serving a warrant at his home in Provo on Wednesday.
He had allegedly made threats against President Joe Biden, saying he would need to prepare his camouflage and sniper rifle for Biden’s visit to Utah this week. He also openly plotted online the assassination of Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney, whose office is prosecuting former President Donald Trump.
The senior law enforcement official said the Secret Service initially referred Robertson and his threats to the FBI.
Truth Social, the social media site Trump founded and uses regularly, also alerted the FBI in March about Robertson’s threats against Bragg on the site, a second senior law enforcement official said.
The shooting occurred at 6:15 a.m. Wednesday as agents were trying to serve arrest and search warrants at Roberton’s home, the FBI said in a statement. It said that no agents were injured and that the incident was under review by the agency’s Inspection Division.
Robertson was shot inside his home in an entryway, one of the officials said.
The investigation into the fatal shooting will determine through forensics whether Robertson fired his weapon, that senior official said.
The Secret Service said Wednesday it was aware of the investigation and the shooting but referred all questions to the FBI.
Little information was shared Wednesday morning about the circumstances leading up to the shooting. In the absence of greater clarity, partisan-driven disinformation has developed freely on social media.
Right-wing posters online have readily compared Robertson to Ashli Babbitt, the pro-Trump protester who was shot as she stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Babbitt, an Air Force veteran, has become a martyr among some on the far right. Now some have claimed that Robertson was killed for his views, which were opposed to the Biden administration.
Disinformation has increased in the internet ecosystem, which in turn propagates domestic terrorism during periods of political polarization, according to a Penn State University study published last year.
That, at times, has made the job of law enforcement more difficult because of how the FBI is perceived, a former senior FBI official said.
“Agents are routinely the subject of threats by the people they’re investigating,” the former official said. “And that makes the mission so much harder to do, because it changes everything you do, quite literally.”
Not much is known about Robertson’s life beyond the shooting. He had only one previous run-in with law enforcement. He was arrested in 1997 for disorderly conduct, to which he pleaded no contest and paid a $70 fine, according to public records.
Robertson’s daughter-in-law, Julie Robertson, said in the immediate aftermath of his death that he was a woodworker and a dog lover, but she struggled to describe him. She said the moment was “very, very difficult for the family.”