The armed man killed after attacking an FBI office on Thursday appears to have been a Donald Trump supporter enraged about the federal raid on Mar-a-Lago who documented his attack as it happened on Trump’s social media platform, Truth Social.
The man may also have been present at the January 6 riot at the US Capitol.
When the FBI executed a search warrant on Trump’s Florida property on Monday, reportedly in search of classified White House documents, Trump told supporters his house was “under siege, raided, and occupied”, leading some extreme Trump supporters online to speak of civil war.
Three days later, Ricky Shiffer, 42, attacked an FBI office in Cincinnati with an AR-15-style rifle and a nailgun. After his attempt to break into the building was unsuccessful, he fled to a rural area, where police shot and killed him during an armed standoff.
Earlier, in a discussion of the Mar-a-Lago raid on Truth Social, someone by the name Ricky Shiffer posted: “I recommend going, and being [in] Florida, I think the feds won’t break it up.”
Shiffer added: “IF they do, kill them” and said that Trump supporters should obtain weapons and be “ready for combat”.
“We must not tolerate this one,” the poster, who said he was a mechanic in Columbus, Ohio, wrote. “They have been conditioning us to accept tyranny and think we can’t do anything for two years. This time we must respond with force.”
Later, during the attack on the FBI office, the same person wrote: “Well, I thought I had a way through bulletproof glass, and I didn’t. If you don’t hear from me, it is true I tried attacking the FBI.”
Truth Social later deleted his profile.
A Facebook video from 5 January last year also appears to show Shiffer at a pro-Trump rally in Washington the night before the riot at the Capitol. On Twitter, someone who appears to be Shiffer also claimed to have been present at the Capitol, though no one by that name has been charged for crimes that day.
Investigators are looking into whether Shiffer had ties to extremist groups such as the Proud Boys, law enforcement officials told the New York Times.
The far right has reacted with fury to the raid on Mar-a-Lago, with diehard Trump supporters framing the FBI operation as an act of authoritarianism and some vowing retribution. The federal judge who approved the warrant, Bruce Reinhart, has been subject to death threats.
“This is the piece of shit judge who approved FBI’s raid on Mar-a-Lago,” a user wrote on a pro-Trump message board, Vice has reported. “I see a rope around his neck.” Another person wrote, “Let’s find out if he has children….where they go to school, where they live…EVERYTHING.”
Political violence has become “almost a 365-day phenomenon”, the director of the FBI, Christopher Wray, said during a Senate hearing last week. “I feel like every day I’m getting briefed on somebody throwing a molotov cocktail at someone for some issue.”
In a possible effort to head off further tumult and potential violence, the US attorney general, Merrick Garland, said in a press conference on Thursday that he was moving to unseal the search warrant and inventory from the raid on Mar-a-Lago. Garland said that he had personally approved the FBI operation.
Trump also declared his support for the idea of unsealing the search warrant.