Twitter bomb threat leads to Macomb Co. man's arrest by FBI counterterrorism team

Robert Snell
The Detroit News

Clinton Township — The FBI's counterterrorism team arrested a Macomb County man Tuesday for threatening on Twitter to detonate 10 bombs and turn his town into "my own little hell."

Joseph Todd Kowalczyk, 20, was charged with transmitting a threat to injure after tweeting the threat Sunday. The tweet included the FBI's Twitter handle and the hashtag #forwaco, an apparent reference to an FBI siege in 1993 at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, that left dozens dead, including leader David Koresh.

The FBI says this threat was posted on Twitter on Sunday.

There is no indication the threats were serious and Kowalczyk denied possessing weapons or bombs. But the threat came at a time of protests in some cities, including Lansing, over restrictions imposed by the government during the COVID-19 outbreak. 

The FBI received the threat at 7:28 p.m. Sunday from the Twitter account @JT616k. The post included the threat: "I'm done joking this is a serious threat I have 10 bombs ready to go off rn in my basement with 5 guns that are illegal own come get me you guys have till 8 before I make this city in my own little hell #forwaco."

The FBI's Office of Public Affairs reviewed the tweet and sent it to the bureau's National Threat Operations Center in Clarksburg, West Virginia.

The FBI asked Twitter officials to disclose account information and traced the telephone number on file to Kowalczyk, according to court records.

"The FBI considered this threat imminent and credible under the belief that death or serious physical injury would occur without law enforcement intervention," an FBI special agent wrote in an affidavit filed in court.

Investigators learned that the phone number was linked to an address at the Parkway Village mobile home park in Clinton Township, east of Gratiot and south of Hall Road. The mobile home is six miles west of Selfridge Air National Guard Base.

On Monday, FBI agents and Clinton Township police officers went to Kowalczyk's home. He told investigators he was "testing the government" and was upset that the FBI did not respond promptly, according to court records.

"Furthermore, he claimed that he did not intend to carry out acts of violence against anyone and did not own any weapons or explosive devices," the FBI agent wrote in the court filing. "Kowalczyk stated that he would not post anything further."

But Kowalczyk continued to tweet, according to the FBI.

At 11:56 a.m. Monday, Kowalczyk posted again, complaining that FBI agents waited too long to respond.

An hour later, Kowalczyk tweeted three crying emojis and wrote: "Man I find it so funny how I wasted the FBI time."

He continued posting throughout the day, writing about how he wanted to see if the FBI would quickly respond to a death threat and how he wanted to ---- with them."

His tweets continued up until an hour before his arrest Tuesday afternoon. The last tweet, posted at 11:06 a.m. Tuesday, accused the FBI of accessing his account and asked "find anything you like???"

Kowalczyk made an initial appearance in federal court Tuesday to face a criminal charge punishable by up to five years in prison. He was released on $10,000 unsecured bond and ordered not to possess firearms, weapons or destructive devices and prohibited from using social media.

Twitter: @robertsnellnews