John Carnduff Stewart of Melbourne Beach, FL was arrested in on March 23 after he allegedly sent Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee Jr. an email stating that he wanted to assassinate Lee and his family. 68-year-old Stewart was apparently upset about the Trayvon Martin case, which has been making international headlines and occurred in Sanford, FL. Stewart was charged with one count of written threats to kill or do bodily injury and released from jail on $10,000 bail bond on the condition that he wear a monitoring device. It is not clear whether Stewart has retained a private criminal defense attorney.
Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee Jr. just announced his temporary resignation from his post on Thursday after the killing of Trayvon Martin in Sanford sparked international outrage. In the now infamous incident, the unarmed African American teen was shot and killed by George Zimmerman, a Hispanic American and self-appointed neighborhood watch captain who followed Martin as he left a convenience store and called police to say that Martin looked like he was on drugs and was “up to no good.” He also used a racial slur against African Americans in the phone call. By the time police got to the scene, Martin was dead from a gunshot wound to the chest and Zimmerman was bleeding and showed signs of a scuffle.
Later, it was revealed that Zimmerman had called police nearly 50 times so far this year. It is still unclear as to why he was patrolling a neighborhood with a loaded gun. Zimmerman, after a Sanford Police investigation, was declared innocent and has not been charged on the grounds that he acted in self-defense after witnesses said that he and Martin got into a physical altercation, as suggested by Zimmerman’s state when police arrived at the scene. The decision has sparked national outrage and resulted in protests and rallies calling for Zimmerman’s immediate arrest. T-shirts bearing the slogan “I am Trayvon Martin” are popping up across the country as many, particularly the African American community, claim that the incident was a hate crime and that justice must be served.
Apparently driven by this uprising, Stewart allegedly sent Chief Lee an email at approximately 8:23 a.m. on Friday, March 23. The subject line of he email said “Coming after you,” and the body of the email reflected the same message: “You f****** son of a b****. You and your family deserve to be hunted down and shot like a dog, just like Trayvon Martin… I have more weapons than your entire police department and I would love to use some of them to take you down.” At the end of the email, apparently as an auto-signature, were Stewart’s full name, address and phone number. The email was reportedly sent from his place of work.
Police went to Stewart’s residence in Brevard County with a search warrant and reportedly found other threatening emails on his computer. Stewart also reportedly confessed to sending the email. He had been investigated for sending threatening emails before; according to the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office, Stewart had been suspected of sending threatening emails to Mike McQueary, the Penn State University football coach.