Advance Notice: Briefs

Michigan man charged after threatening Biden, Whitmer, members of LGBTQ+ community

By: - March 13, 2023 8:48 am

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer greets legislators before presenting her budget proposal to the Michigan House and Senate Appropriations Committees on Feb. 8, 2023. (Andrew Roth/Michigan Advance)

A man from Michigan’s Thumb region, who authorities say made numerous threats to kill FBI agents, members of the LGBTQ+ community, President Joe Biden, and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, has been charged with illegally possessing firearms.

According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan, Randall Robert Berka II, 30, of Sebewaing in Huron County, was illegally in possession of four firearms, three long guns and a pistol, after he had been committed to a mental institution and while he was a daily user of marijuana. Berka also was in possession of ammunition and body armor.  

Berka came to the attention of the FBI after Google reported to the agency that he was posting various threats on YouTube, including: “im going to kill these democrats biden deserves to die,” “im gonna kill lgbt freaks,” “you could be like me and get guns and threaten to kill politicians. Im more than willing tot kill whitmer and I do live in Michigan,” “Ill assault her . . . with my bullets,” and “i buy guns though and plot to kill people.”

Berka was taken into custody by the FBI at his residence in Sebewaing on Thursday. He remains held pending a detention hearing Wednesday. Berka, who has yet to enter a plea, faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted. 

“We will take immediate action when we learn of individuals illegally possessing firearms and threatening to harm or kill others,” said U.S. Attorney Dawn Ison. “I applaud Google’s vigilance in this matter, and we hope members of the community will, likewise, pay attention and report such conduct to law enforcement.”

According to the criminal complaint, FBI agents interviewed Berka’s mother at her workplace and she confirmed her son had been involuntarily committed for mental health treatment, and that while he has since been treated and medicated numerous times voluntarily, her son used marijuana daily. 

Despite that history, Berka’s mother confirmed that she had purchased the three long guns and a handgun, and that he had ammunition for the guns, as well as body armor. She also told agents she was scared of her son, didn’t believe mental health treatment was working, and thought he should be arrested and put in prison.

“This defendant’s actions were very alarming,” said James A. Tarasca, special agent in charge of the FBI in Michigan. “When free speech crosses a line and becomes a threat of violence against another – aggravated by the illegal possession of firearms – the full investigative resources of the FBI will be brought to bear. As always, we encourage the public to be vigilant and report concerning behavior to the FBI and local law enforcement.”

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Jon King
Jon King

Jon King is the Senior Reporter for the Michigan Advance and has been a journalist for more than 35 years. He is the Past President of the Michigan Associated Press Media Editors Association and has been recognized for excellence numerous times, most recently in 2022 with the Best Investigative Story by the Michigan Association of Broadcasters. He is also an adjunct faculty member at Cleary University. Jon and his family live in Howell.

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