A New Jersey blogger accused of encouraging violence against Connecticut legislators told authorities he hoped nobody would "go off the deep end and do something terrible," but he added, "you never can tell," according to a police report released Monday.
A judge arraigned Harold "Hal" Turner in Hartford Superior Court on Monday on a felony charge of inciting injury to persons. Turner, who says his words are protected by free speech rights, did not enter a plea. He and his attorney declined to comment.
Earlier this month, the 47-year-old former radio talk show host urged his blog readers to "take up arms" against Connecticut lawmakers and suggested government officials should "obey the Constitution or die."
Turner, of North Bergen, N.J., was angry over legislation that would have given lay members of Roman Catholic churches more control over their parishes' finances. The bill, brought by state Sen. Andrew McDonald and Rep. Michael Lawlor, was withdrawn in March.
'Put down this tyranny by force'
Turner promised readers he would release state officials' home addresses. He also wrote that Catholics should "put down this tyranny by force" and "I suspect we have enough bullets" to stop any prosecutors, police officers or court officials.
A Connecticut Capitol police officer said in the arrest warrant affidavit released Monday that Turner took responsibility for what he wrote in the June 2 posting.
"I did an article on it, and then posted some very terse commentary at the bottom," Turner told the officer the same day as the posting.
"It's certainly my intent to motivate the public to get involved in this, and certainly we hope that nobody's going to go off the deep end and do something terrible, but ... you never can tell," Turner said, according to the affidavit.
Police said the specific targets of Turner's comments were McDonald, Lawlor and Thomas Jones, an enforcement officer at the Office of State Ethics. Lawlor filed the police complaint, and McDonald and Jones told officers they were worried about their safety.
Maximum sentence of 10 years
The ethics office has been investigating whether the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport should have registered as a lobbying group for its actions related to the parish finances bill and a rally at the Capitol on March 11. The diocese is suing the ethics office in federal court, citing free speech rights.
The crime Turner is charged with, inciting injury to persons or property, carries a maximum prison sentence of up to 10 years. His next court hearing is July 14.
Turner's views have drawn scrutiny before. Two years ago, police in New Jersey beefed up security for four state Supreme Court justices whose addresses Turner revealed "to show they can be gotten to." Turner released the information after the court ruled that gay couples were entitled to the same rights as married couples.