Pueblo, CO – Police arrested a man on Monday who said he was a disabled military veteran after he sent numerous threats to kill law enforcement officers and a U.S. senator.
The police affidavit said that 37-year-old Thomas Wornick first came to the attention of police last summer when he was belligerent and refused to cooperate with deputies at the Parkview West Hospital, The Pueblo Chieftain reported.
“We have had numerous contacts with this individual that was arrested last night — the first being on July 4,” Pueblo County Sheriff Kirk Taylor said a press conference on March 10.
Pueblo Crime Stoppers received a tip on Jan. 4 titled “Kill all sheriff’s deputies,” The Pueblo Chieftain reported.
The affidavit said the threat against the deputies was repeated throughout the tip.
In the spot on the tip form where the suspect’s name goes were the names of the three deputies who dealt with Wornick at the hospital in July, leading investigators to look in his direction, The Pueblo Chieftain reported.
“Each time the individual became more and more agitated — and the threats were becoming more escalated,” Sheriff Taylor said.
When deputies tried to contact Wornick on Feb. 7 to talk to him about the tip, his girlfriend told them he was suffering from PTSD and didn’t want to talk to them, The Pueblo Chieftain reported.
And then he shouted obscenities at them.
After that, Wornick sent an email to a Colorado television station with more threats, The Pueblo Chieftain reported.
“He said he was planning on killing numerous sheriff’s deputies — all deputy sheriffs — but specifically three individuals who had contact with him back in July,” Sheriff Taylor said.
And then Wornick threatened Sheriff Taylor, too, according to The Pueblo Chieftain.
“This thing was really spread out across the community. I received numerous calls and emails and text from the [Colorado] State Patrol and from law enforcement agencies and city police, the [Greater Pueblo] Chamber of Commerce,” the sheriff explained.
Finally, Wornick sent another threatening email directly to the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office that triggered an immediate investigation, The Pueblo Chieftain reported.
The email accused the deputies who had dealt with him in July of assaulting him.
“I will use my skills the United States Government trained me, and I will hunt down and kill every Pueblo sheriff deputy, the true enemy of the people …” Wornick wrote.
Threatening emails were sent to 10 different agencies, The Pueblo Chieftain reported.
The sheriff’s office said that on Monday morning, Wornick sent out more threatening emails that made threats against government officials and, specifically, U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (R-Colorado).
“… I got no choice left but to kill Cory Gardner so that the rest of the world will at least know that I served this nation …” Wornick wrote in the email.
Wornick said in the email that he was blown up twice by improvised explosive devices while he was deployed to Iraq in 2003, and that he suffered every day to serve the United States, The Pueblo Chieftain reported.
“I am going to hunt down and kill every sheriff deputy, then I am going to hunt down and kill Cory Gardner for refusing to help me get medical care,” Wornick wrote.
Sheriff Taylor said the severe and specific threat against Gardner upped the ante for the investigation, The Pueblo Chieftain reported.
A task force made up of the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Pueblo Police Department, and Fort Carson military police lured Wornick onto the Fort Carson military base on March 9 and arrested him there.
“We didn’t want to have any type of hostage situation when we went to approach him,” Sheriff Taylor said. “It was part of our operational plan to get him out and away from his home.”
“We were able to convince him to go to someplace that he was comfortable in because we knew he was in crisis — and that was a military base that was relatively close,” the sheriff explained.
Detectives searched Wornick’s home in the 1500-block of East 12th Street after they arrested him and found knives, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, and two guns, including a semi-automatic rifle, The Pueblo Chieftain reported.
Deputies transported the suspect back to Pueblo and booked him into the Pueblo County Jail on charges of harassment and obstruction of government operations.
“This was great work by our detectives in quickly locating and arresting this suspect before he could act upon the threats,” Sheriff Taylor said.
“He had not only the will to do it, he had the means in which to do it,” the sheriff said, according to The Pueblo Chieftain.