Congress

Man who sought internship with Rep. Velázquez later threatened to shoot her

Queens man was arrested by NYPD on Wednesday

Rep. Nydia Velázquez, D-N.Y., was the target of a shooting threat last week, according to her office. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A Queens, New York, man has been arrested for threatening to shoot Rep. Nydia Velázquez. Less than 48 hours earlier, he had sought an internship with the longtime New York Democrat.

New York police arrested Luke Nammacher on Wednesday, the New York Daily News reported, after authorities were able to trace a call he made last Friday to Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office in which he said he had a “friend” who wanted to shoot Velázquez.

[Threats against members increasing, Capitol Police chief says]

Nammacher had previously contacted Velázquez’s staff asking for an internship with the congresswoman. But before the staff could even accept or decline his request, Nammacher repeatedly called the office and harassed employees, the Daily News reported.

“It became apparent that this individual had applied for an internship last Thursday with my office and when the individual continued to make further contact with my office, the NYPD was contacted,” Velázquez said in a statement.

The congresswoman, who has represented parts of Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan for more than 26 years, did not indicate she harbored any ill will toward Nammacher. “It is my hope that this individual receives the compassion and assistance [he] needs,” she said in her statement.

Velázquez’s office has been in “regular contact” with the Capitol Police, who assess threats against members of Congress.

Threats against members have seen an uptick in recent years, Capitol Police Chief Steven A. Sund told lawmakers on the House Administration Committee in July.

In fiscal 2018, the Capitol Police dealt with roughly 4,894 threat assessment cases. “So far, for this year, we have 2,502 cases. So we’re on par to probably break last year’s,” Sund said at his July 16 hearing before the committee.

Many first-year members of Congress have extremely high profiles and receive threats, including four Democrats whom President Donald Trump has been recently disparaging on Twitter: Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna S. Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.

Those freshman Democrats have been transparent about the death threats and disparaging remarks their offices receive daily. But it’s not just Democrats and freshmen who must worry about violent constituents.

Dozens of Republican lawmakers and staff, including House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, were the targets of a shooting spree at a GOP congressional baseball team practice in June 2017.

Scalise, Capitol Police officer Crystal Griner and two others were shot when a gunman opened fire on the lawmakers at a baseball field in Alexandria, Virginia. Griner, fellow Capitol Police officers Henry Cabrera and David Bailey, and two officers from the Alexandria Police Department killed the gunman within 10 minutes after he opened fire. No one else died in the attack.

Without the bravery of the officers, “I wouldn’t be standing here today,” said GOP Rep. Rodney Davis of Illinois, who was at the field in Alexandria during the shooting.

Chris Marquette contributed to this report.

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