Florida Department of Law Enforcement arrested convicted felon Joshua John Leff, 40, of Fort Myers Friday for threats he made in writing to kill minority groups.
According to FDLE, investigators began looking into Leff after they were tipped of Leff’s activity online, using an alias and posting statements and videos inciting violence against minority groups on lesser-known social media websites.
“If you think about Facebook and Twitter, they are starting to control the content, so that hate doesn’t spew,” said Dr. David Thomas, an FGCU criminal justice professor. “So you have to go to back-page blogs, the dark web, in order to track those kinds of things.”
Leff faces charges for Possession Of Weapon (Or Ammo by Convicted United States Felon) and Intimidation (Send Written Threat To Kill).
Leff had first appearance Saturday and has bail set at $1.1 million. $100,000 for the a weapons charge and $1 million for intimidation. The judge also said he cannot have internet access.
FDLE responded to Leff’s home in Fort Myers and found guns, ammunition, handgun holsters and two .380 magazines.
“Leff espoused hatred toward several minority groups, threatened violence against those who disagreed with him and encouraged followers to start a race war,” according to the FDLE report.
Neighbors are glad FDLE was able to investigate Leff and make the arrest.
“We are more calmed now because we can be at our own house,” Yeni Lopez said in Spanish. “When these things happen, it gives me a lot of fear because you never know what we have in the neighborhood.”
His case will be prosecuted by the Office of the State Attorney, 20th Judicial Circuit.
Thomas said it’s important to contact police if you find posts like the ones investigators found on Leff during the investigation.
“Contact law enforcement with that information,” Thomas said. “So they can follow up, prevent something like this, a massacre or something serious from happening in the future.”