A La Mesa man accused of leaving a threatening voice message at the San Diego office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and sending a threatening email to the organization’s Washington, D.C., office was ordered Tuesday to stand trial on felony charges.
John David Weissinger, 53, faces a maximum of eight years in prison if convicted of eight charges, including making a criminal threat and hate crime allegations, said Deputy District Attorney Oscar Garcia.
In a threatening email, Weissinger wrote that he was coming with enough firepower to “kill all of you,” San Diego police Detective Dean Way testified.
A female employee at CAIR’s Kearny Mesa office testified that she came to work the morning of Jan. 15 and listened to a voice mail allegedly left by Weissinger.
“It was a horrific message,” said the woman, who did not want to be publicly identified. “I was terrified.”
She said the male caller threatened to shoot her and fellow employees, mentioning the massacre at the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris a week earlier.
“I believed he was going to kill me, (and) everybody in my office,” the CAIR employee testified. She said she called police and gave them Weissinger’s name, which she got from caller ID.
The woman testified she had seen Weissinger hanging around the local CAIR office several times in the weeks before the hate-filled voice message was left.
Detective Way testified that an assault rifle was found during a Jan. 27 search of Weissinger’s home.
The detective said Weissinger admitted leaving the voice mail and also sending a similar email hours later to CAIR’s national headquarters in Washington.
“He admitted everything,” the detective said, testifying that Weissinger told him he was drunk at the time and that it was a “stupid thing to do.”
Way said the defendant told him that he was mad about what was going on in the world and could see how his voice mail could be taken as a threat.
Defense attorney Tom Matthews argued before Judge Frederic Link that there was no clear threat in Weissinger’s messages and the threat wasn’t immediate.
“It’s a rant. It’s a drunken rant,” Matthews told the judge.
But Link ruled that since Weissinger introduced guns and firepower into his messages, that constituted a threat.
The judge ruled that enough evidence was presented for Weissinger to stand trial on felony charges of making a criminal threat, attempted criminal threat, possession of an illegal assault weapon, possession of a high-capacity magazine and misdemeanor phone threat and hate crime charges.
Weissinger — who is free on $50,000 bail — will be back in court April 21 for arraignment.
— City News Service