Man accused of threatening Kalispell schoolkids pleads not guilty

VINCE DEVLIN vdevlin@missoulian.com | Posted: Friday, March 20, 2015 6:00 am

KALISPELL – He asked the judge one question, but otherwise, David Joseph Lenio sat silently Thursday as his public defender entered not guilty pleas on his behalf to felony charges of intimidation and criminal defamation.

Lenio, 28, is accused of threatening on social media to shoot as many as 100 Kalispell schoolchildren.

As he was being led away from his initial court appearance last month, where he represented himself and his bail was set at $500,000, Lenio called out for authorities to release surveillance camera footage from the 2011 Tucson, Arizona, shootings that killed six people and wounded a dozen more, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

He also encouraged people to look up a 2011 YouTube video he had posted, as “David Dave,” in which he blames Israel for the 9/11 attacks on America.

But Thursday, Lenio only spoke when Flathead District Court Judge Heidi Ulbricht asked if he understood the rights she had just read to him.

“What was the part before ‘speedy trial’?” Lenio asked her.

The right to a jury trial, the judge answered.

Ulbricht set an omnibus hearing for May 6, and a jury trial for July 6.

Public defender Brent Getty represented Lenio on Thursday.

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Lenio was arrested Feb. 16 after allegedly engaging a fellow Twitter user in a discussion that began with the other man’s tweet about a gunman’s attacks in Denmark on Feb. 14-15.

The fellow Twitter user, Jonathan Hutson, is the spokesman for the Brady Campaign and Center to Prevent Gun Violence. After researching the person who was tweeting him and uncovering multiple threats made against Jewish people and schoolchildren, Hutson contacted the FBI.

Less than 48 hours after Hutson tweeted a link to a New York Times story about the Denmark attacks that provoked Lenio's response, Lenio was arrested by FBI agents, Flathead County sheriff’s deputies and Kalispell and Whitefish police at Whitefish Mountain, where the suspect had spent the day snowboarding.

Court documents filed by the Flathead County Attorney’s Office list 20 tweets Lenio allegedly sent between Feb. 12 and Feb. 15.

In those documents, Deputy County Attorney Travis Ahner also says Lenio moved a rifle, gun safe, and other items from a storage unit into his residence the night of Feb. 15.

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Court documents accuse Lenio, a restaurant cook, of tweeting these and other messages on Feb. 12 and 13. Lenio's punctuation and spelling have not been changed.

• “Even animals without money get land to live on, hunt & forage; but Americans without dollars must be homeless? I want to shoot up a school.”

• “Talk mental health all you want but if I must work for piss poor #homeless slave #wages & can’t get property in my homeland .. I may kill kids.”

• “USA needs a Hitler to rise to power and fix our #economy and i’m about ready to give my life to the cause or just shoot a bunch of (ethnic slur).”

• “If I had to pick between being homeless or shooting up a school and becoming dead, I’d say shooting up the school.”

• "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.”

• “What would I rather do? Be a #wage slave for the rest of my life or tell society (expletive) you & do your kids a favor by shooting up a #school.”

• “Best way to counter the harm #jewish #politics is causing is #ChapelHillShooting style killing of #jews til they get the hint & leave.”

• “Seriously working 4 poverty wages that can't even afford housing, food & keeping a running vehicle makes me want to shoot up a school or jews.”

• “I’m a wage slave to ink and paper dollars we print to bailout jewish mega banks as (slur) go on bout #WhitePrivilege & I’m no suppose to kill?”

• “I can’t even afford #land or camp/live in my #homeland so why the hell shouldn’t I shoot up a synagogue for what the jews did to US?”

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On Feb. 14 and 15, these were among the messages authorities allege Lenio tweeted:

• “I’m not even opposed to shooting up a random school like that sandy hoax stunt only realer, to voice my displeasure with being a wage slave.”

• "I bet I’d take out at least a whole #classroom & score 30+ if I put my mind to it #Poverty is making me want to kill folks #Meantal Health?”

• “If I can’t even afford habitat to live on, why the (expletive) shouldn’t I shoot up a #school and #teach the world something about ‘mental health’?”

• “This working and not having a (expletive) thing to show for it (expletive) makes me wanna execute grade #school #kids til the cops take me out too.”

• “But I’ve given up on my #American #dreams and replaced them with more realistic violent fantasies ... #Freedom? #ChapelHillShooting #USSA.”

• “#Copenhagen It’s important to note that jews hate free speech & are known (expletive), could be #falseFlag So Hope for many REAL dead (slur).”

• “Now that the holocaust has been proven to be a lie Beyond a reasonable doubt, it is now time to hunt the Nazi hunters.”

• “If my tax dollars can go to blowing up Palestine #school kids then surely I can tweet about how cool killing school kids is.”

The document says Lenio told Kalispell Police Detective Cory Clarke he was “trying to bring attention to certain social issues.”

Lenio also asked if his tweets had affected schools and caused law enforcement to be more active in schools, and “stated that he was glad that he was having that effect.”