Chicago, IL – A man accused of repeatedly threatening to harm or kill former Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke, his family, and Chicago police families is now facing federal charges.
The former officer was recently sentenced to nearly seven years in prison for the 2014 shooting death of Laquan McDonald.
He fatally shot McDonald while the knife-wielding teen, high on PCP, walked down the street and ignored officers’ commands.
According to the indictment, Matthew Ross, 32, has been charged with three counts of making online threats, due to a multitude of posts he made beginning in August of 2018, the Chicago Tribune reported.
The indictment was made public last week.
As the jury selection for Van Dyke’s trial began in September, Ross posted photos of one of the former officer’s family members onto social media, according to the Chicago Tribune.
“OUR WOMEN AND CHILDREN AREN’T OFF LIMITS FOR THEM…SO THEIRS AREN’T FOR US!!” the post read, according to court documents.
“JUST SHOOT UP THE WHOLE COURTROOM!!” he wrote on Oct. 2, as Van Dyke testified in his own defense. “FREE YOUR SOUL!!!”
He made five posts in less than two hours that day, according to the Chicago Sun Times.
Other posts expanded the threats to all law enforcement families in the area.
“CHICAGO POLICE’S WIVES & CHILDREN NEED TO BE SHOT!!” Ross wrote in a post in August, according to court documents.
“MT. GREENWOOD, MIDWAY, ALL COP NEIGHBORHOODS, WE BEATIN YA’LL KIDS AND WIVES -SS IF VAN DYKE GETS OFF!!” another post read.
“SO IF I GOT A HIT SQUAD TOGETHER TO SHOOT 70 FAMILY MEMBERS OF CPD OFFICERS THIS WEEKEND…..THEY’LL BE NO SUSPECTS MONDAY MORNING??” he wrote on Aug. 7.
Ross also allegedly threatened to set fire to city aldermen’s offices and the Navy Pier if the former officer was not convicted of second-degree murder and the 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm leveled against him, the Chicago Tribune reported.
According to court documents, Ross’ Facebook page showed photos of him holding a rifle.
Police initially arrested Ross on Oct. 4 at the Leighton Criminal Court Building, as he was arriving to listen to closing arguments in Van Dyke’s case.
He was charged with misdemeanor offenses of disorderly conduct and electronic harassment, and was released on his own recognizance.
Those charges were dismissed in November, the Chicago Sun Times reported.
Ross initially told the Chicago Sun Times that he regretted making the posts, and that he didn’t think they would be shared as widely as they were.
“It was posted in the heat of the moment,” he claimed at the time. “Unfortunately, once you put in on social media you can’t take it back.”
Ross also claimed that he wants to strive for peace and mutual respect with Van Dyke’s supporters.
“We all need to get to a place where we show each other love and grace,” he told the Chicago Sun Times in October.
If convicted of the federal counts against him, Ross could serve up to 15 years in prison, the Chicago Tribune reported.