Threatening emails, visits led to shooting of U.S. Marshal in Tucson
TUCSON — Court records reveal the menacing emails the man charged with shooting and killing a U.S. marshal sent to Tucson police in the days and months leading to the deadly altercation.
Ryan Schlesinger, 26, expressed in his own words his willingness and readiness to use violence against police officers who were trying to provide him with mental health assistance over three emails andother supporting documents that officers filed as evidence in their harassment cases against him.
In a span of 16 months, several officers requested five harassment injunctions and amended orders against Schlesinger at the Pima County Consolidated Justice Court in Tucson. All five were granted.
The requests of injunction describe his “concerning” and “retaliatory” behavior in the two years preceding the shooting death of deputy U.S. Marshal Chase White, 41, who was serving an arrest warrant on Schlesinger Nov. 29.
Included in the court records are emails that Schlesinger sent to a Tucson police officer in the department’s Mental Health Support Team, who he chided for “asking me rude and asinine mental health questions which are none of your damn business such as, ‘Are you suicidal?'” records show.
But they also show the escalation in threats. In one email, Schlesinger expressed his annoyance that police had reached out to his father, simultaneously referencing the address of one of the officer’s family members. Records show he went to the family member’s home unannounced to intimidate the officer.
That escalation proved so alarming it forced the officer on the receiving end to seek court-mandated protection more than once.
“I was planning on keeping peoples (sic) families out of my ‘beef’ but since TPD (Tucson Police Department) has no intention of doing so, than (sic) neither will I,” Schlesinger wrote in an email dated Aug. 26, 2018.
“Your parents live at (redacted) right? I think I might just pay them a visit,” the email continued. “Crossing me was the biggest mistake of your life.”
‘Using any force necessary’
The Pima County Consolidated Justice Court issued its first harassment injunction against Schlesinger on Aug. 18, 2017. It was filed by a code-of-conduct officer at Pima Community College, where Schlesinger enrolled in classes and was twice suspended.
In the petition for injunction, the officer said Schlesinger was first suspended for unspecified “behavioral issues” beginning in April 2017 and was suspended a second time after sending harassing and threatening emails over that summer. As part of an amended order, the court decreed that “the defendant is precluded from possessing any and all firearms.”
While the college officer does not go into details about the source of those issues, or what the emails said, the second harassment injunction filed nearly a year later by a Tucson Police officer provides more details.
By then, Tucson police’s Mental Health Support Team became involved, reaching out to Schlesinger “after threatening to ‘Virginia Tech’ Pima Community College,” the second petition reads.
But when officers showed up to Schlesinger’s house on Aug. 18, 2017, he called 911 and threatened to shoot them. He “fought, and tried to grab” an officer’s loaded gun, but they used a Taser on him and took him into custody, according to the officer filing the second injunction. They then took Schlesinger to a mental-health facility for crisis services.
Additional court records describe a series of exchanges between Schlesinger and Tucson police officers following the Aug. 18, 2017, incident, in which police seized his handgun. He threatened he would make a citizen’s arrest on officers by “using any force necessary” to get his gun back, according to the records.
He also emailed a militia in Phoenix asking them for help to storm Tucson Police Department’s evidence room because “without their help it would turn into a shootout, with TPD taking heavy casualties,” the court records said.
Law-enforcement officials spoke at a press conference regarding Deputy U.S. Marshal Chase White, who was fatally shot on Thursday in Tucson.
‘Render harmless the threat’
According to the fifth and last harassment injunction filed on Nov. 26, 2018, Schlesinger filed a report with the Tucson Police Department in September saying several officers in the mental health unit “kidnapped, assaulted, conspired, and unlawfully imprisoned him” in a mental health facility in 2017.
The petition was filed by a Sgt. Amber Kingman, a supervisor in the mental health unit who had served the court order the year before. While the other officers’ identities are redacted in the county court records, federal court records identified Kingman by name.
Her petition said Schlesinger had showed up to her work at Tucson Police’s Westside substation on two occasions, asking for her by name.
The most recent was on Nov. 20, when Schlesinger told Kingman that he was there to arrest her. When she explained to him that he couldn’t, he allegedly replied, “I mean I could just show up at your house and do it.”
Two days later, on Nov. 22, Schlesinger filed another online complaint with Tucson police, citing his failed attempt to make a citizen’s arrest per Arizona law.
“I have every intention of going back to the TPD west side substation and attempting another citizen’s arrest,” he wrote in the complaint.
He suggested how that situation could play out, saying that if he disarmed Kingman, other officers would likely show up and draw their weapons at him.
“At that point, I have no choice but render harmless the threat/s,” Schlesinger wrote.
“I would highly recommend that the TPD arrest the criminals listed in my report so I don’t have to,” he added. “I don’t think anybody wants this turning into shootout at the O.K. Corral.”
Four days later, on Nov. 26, the Pima County Consolidated Justice Court granted the injunction and issued another protective order, instructing Schlesinger to avoid any contact, directly or indirectly, with Kingman and ordering him to surrender all weapons to police or the sheriff within 24 hours.
On Nov. 29, as U.S. marshals served an arrest warrant at this Tucson home, Schlesinger opened fire from inside, injuring White during the shootout. The deputy U.S. marshal was hospitalized but passed away from his injuries hours later.
Schlesinger remains in police custody. He faces charges of first-degree murder of a federal officer.
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