UPDATE: Police: West Virginia governor threatened over COVID orders

CHARLESTON, WV (WOAY)— A West Virginia man has been charged with threatening Gov. Jim Justice and his staff over restrictions meant to keep people from getting infected and dying during the coronavirus pandemic.

Steven Long, 49, was arrested Thursday night and charged with terroristic threatening, news outlets reported, citing a statement from West Virginia State Police.

Troopers received a complaint Wednesday about a tweet that was deemed a possible threat, according to a criminal complaint filed in Kanawha County Magistrate Court.

The tweet complains about policies implemented by Justice, West Virginia State Medical Director Anye Amjad and West Virginia COVID-19 Czar Clay Marsh, and in retaliation, “calls for ‘LynchMob Justice’ and the public execution of all three government officials,” Cpl. Benjamin Wood wrote in the criminal complaint.

With coronavirus infections spiking in West Virginia and elsewhere around the U.S., Justice announced new requirements last week, making people wear masks in businesses and other public indoor spaces at all times except when eating or drinking. The governor also urged businesses to call police on patrons not wearing masks. Justice also ordered public and private schools to refrain from in-person instruction from Thanksgiving through Dec. 3, and postponed winter youth sports until Jan. 11, 2021.

Long told troopers he was exercising his First Amendment right to free speech with the tweet, the criminal complaint said.

“Mr. Long stated he was expressing a thought, not a threat, not a harm, just a thought,” Wood wrote.

Police said it was an attempt to intimidate officials and influence future COVID-19 policies.

It wasn’t immediately clear if Long has an attorney.

Original Story (11/19/2020):

CHARLESTON, WV (WOAY) – West Virginia State Police say a Charleston man made terroristic threats towards Governor Justice and his staff.

On Wednesday, troopers initiated an investigation into threats on social media. The investigation resulted in the arrest of Stephen Long. It’s unclear what threats led to his arrest.

The West Virginia State Police maintains a zero-tolerance policy regarding terroristic threats.

Kassie Simmons
Kassie Simmons joined the team in January 2019 as a weekend journalist. She graduated from Virginia Tech in just two and a half years with a BA in multimedia journalism. During her short time at Virginia Tech, she served as the editor for the university’s chapter of The Tab. Kassie was named the top reporter for The Tab at Virginia Tech on multiple occasions and made the list for the top 30 reporters for The Tab in the U.S. She also studied theater performance and minored in creative writing. Before coming to WOAY, Kassie interned at WSLS in Roanoke and the Tidewater Review in her hometown of West Point, Va. She has loved following breaking news since her childhood and has a passion for delivering the stories people care most about. Kassie is excited to be working in Southern West Virginia and looks forward to all the adventures ahead of her. You can follow her on Twitter at @KassieLSimmons and like her page on Facebook. If you have a story you think she should check out, send her an email at ksimmons@woay.com.