A former Kalispell man who allegedly threatened to shoot school children and assassinate religious leaders has been arrested on stalking charges in Michigan.
The new accusations against 30-year-old David Joseph Lenio come less than a year after Flathead County Attorney Ed Corrigan agreed to dismiss felony intimidation charges so long as Lenio remained law abiding for two years.
Lenio was arrested on Feb. 24 in Grand Rapids, Michigan and charged with felony stalking, felony use of a computer to commit a crime and misdemeanor malicious use of telecommunications services. Lenio pleaded not guilty to all three charges at an arraignment on Feb. 27 in the 61st District Court in Kent County.
According to court documents, Lenio had been harassing Jonathan Hutson, a Maryland man who first discovered Lenio’s threatening Twitter messages in early 2015.
In one online post on Feb. 12, 2015, Lenio, who had recently moved to Kalispell, allegedly wrote, “I bet I could get at least 12 unarmed sitting ducks if I decide to go on a killing spree in a school. Sounds better than being a wage slave.” And in another tweet, sent on Feb. 15, he reportedly wrote, “If my tax dollars can go to blowing up Palestine school kids then surely I can tweet about how cool killing school kids is.”
On Feb. 16, an officer with the Kalispell Police Department contacted Lenio to talk to him about his tweets. Lenio admitted that he had sent the messages and that he was “trying to bring attention to certain social issues,” according to court documents. He then told the officer that he was glad his tweets were gaining the attention of law enforcement and school officials.
Later that same day, an officer talked to Lenio’s roommate, who said Lenio had brought rifles and ammunition to their home the night before, according to authorities. Police obtained a search warrant for Lenio’s apartment and found a 9mm semiautomatic and a Russian-made bolt-action rifle in his bedroom. They also found numerous rounds of ammunition in Lenio’s bedroom and basement. Later they conducted a search of Lenio’s vehicle and found a .32 caliber semiautomatic pistol and more ammunition. They also discovered marijuana, a pipe and jugs of urine.
Lenio was arrested that day as he was coming back from snowboarding at Whitefish Mountain Resort.
Lenio was charged in Flathead County District Court with intimidation and criminal defamation, both felonies. He pleaded not guilty to the charges soon after his arrest. He spent five months in the Flathead County Detention Center before being released into the custody of his family in Michigan.
In March 2016, prosecutors dropped the charges against Lenio so long as he stayed out of legal trouble for two years. As part of the deferred prosecution agreement, the Flathead County Attorney’s Office has the ability to reopen the case and charge Lenio again.
In an emailed statement to the Beacon, Hutson said Lenio had been harassing and threatening him on Twitter in recent weeks from an account that has since been shut down for violating the website’s terms of service. Hutson and others were critical of Corrigan’s decision to file a deferred prosecution agreement in 2016 because they believed that Lenio posed a real threat to the community.
“Hopefully, the justice system will work this time,” Hutson wrote in his email. “And hopefully Lenio will finally receive the mental healthcare which he apparently needs.”
Lenio will appear in court in Michigan again next week for a probable cause hearing. He is being held on $10,000 bond in the Kent County Jail.
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