News release from Rep. Andy Holt
NASHVILLE, Tenn., June 14, 2016— On Tuesday, the office of Tennessee State Representative Andy Holt (R-Dresden) was able to identify the caller who made multiple calls on Monday evening threatening the life of staffer Michael Lotfi and Holt himself as Democrat activist Michael Barrach.
“We spoke with law enforcement and other staffers here at the capitol and they say the number and behavior matches that of Mr. Barrach,” said Lotfi. “In fact, we learned this isn’t the first time Mr. Barrach has made threats to Republican legislators and staffers at the Capitol. According to other staffers, he’s called at least 3 other Republican legislators recently and made similar threats.”
Holt plans to press charges and move forward with a criminal investigation.
“I think it’s extremely important to note that this guy is a radicalized leftist. He’s sent out derogatory tweets to United States Senator Lamar Alexander and is clearly targeting Republican legislators while championing those on the left,” said Holt. “I’m very concerned for the safety of the women and children here at the capitol. While this individual hasn’t yet made good on any of his threats, he has told reporters that he “can’t remember” making the threats and that he does indeed have a firearm. Well, as a responsible gun owner, I know and believe that rights come with great responsibilities, and calling up to the capitol threatening to murder Republican legislators to fulfill a political agenda isn’t very responsible. If he can’t remember making phone calls, then at what point will he be asked whether or not he remembers coming to the capitol and murdering people?”
State Troopers and investigators say they have had Barrach on a watch list.
UPDATE/Note: Before Barrach was identified by name, Cari Wade Gervin apparently got him on the phone. Her blog post
— noting that Holt apparently heavily edited a clip of calls released to media — is HERE. An excerpt:
Pith spoke for a while with the man behind the Memphis cellphone number listed in Lofti’s video. He is politically active, and he said he regularly does call U.S. Rep Steve Cohen’s and U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker’s offices to vent about things. He does own at least one gun, but he called himself “a peacenik.” He also said he’s on a lot of medications relating to complications from a past bout of stomach cancer and doesn’t seem to be using them exactly per doctor’s orders.
The man declined to give his name, but he seemed genuinely freaked out that Holt might be calling the police to investigate the “death threats.”
“I was asleep for the day, this afternoon,” the alleged caller said. He said he spent the morning running errands with his mother until he got violently ill and had to return home and go to bed. At which point, he said, he took trazodone. And then he doesn’t remember anything.
“If for some reason I got up and made some phone calls, I’d apologize! But I don’t even know who Andy Holt is,” he said.
Pith played the edited video to the man, who confirmed that it does indeed sound like his voice. (Pith concurs).
“Oh my God, that does sound like me! But why aren’t there any calls on my outgoing call list?” he asked. “If I made any phone calls, I must have done it in my sleep. … People are going to think I’m some kind of maniac, and I’m not.”