A La Mesa man who directed threats at the San Diego and Washington, D.C., offices of the Council on American-Islamic Relations pleaded guilty Tuesday to criminal charges.
John David Weissinger, 54, entered his plea to charges of making a criminal threat, with hate crime allegations, and possession of an illegal assault rifle.
Weissinger faces probation and up to a year in jail when he is sentenced Oct. 13.
A female employee at CAIR’s Kearny Mesa office testified during a preliminary hearing in April that she came to work the morning of Jan. 15 and listened to a voice mail 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.
San Diego police Detective Dean 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 threatening email hours later to CAIR’s national headquarters in Washington, D.C.
“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.
In the threatening email, Weissinger wrote that he was coming with enough firepower to “kill all of you,” Way testified.
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 Weissinger introduced guns and firepower into his messages, which constituted a threat.
—City News Service
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