FBI aids Lee County Sheriff’s Department in arresting man allegedly threatening church with mass murder

TUPELO, Miss. (WCBI) – Monday, the Lee County Sheriff’s Department announced the arrest of a Saltillo man accused of threatening his church and its members with “mass murder.”

Sheriff Jim Johnson says it was around 8 p.m. Friday that the FBI contacted them about threats of violence against area churches on Sunday, November 14.  

“The information received from the FBI was deemed credible and the Lee County Sheriff’s Department immediately began investigating the threat,” Sheriff Johnson says. 

Sheriff Johnson says the suspect made three social media posts that he was planning  “a mass murder of people in his church.” 

Within two to three hours, the sheriff’s department arrested 20-year-old Ryan Evans at his home in Saltillo and charged him with making  terroristic threats via his posts on YouTube.

“At least two of the three repeated his intent of committing a mass murder at his church,” the sheriff says. “Now, it did not specifically say how that was going to happen.” 

The sheriff says they searched Evans’s home but did not find any weapons, explosives or other items to carry out the alleged threat. 

“It’s hard to sit here and say what people will do but I think credit is given to the people that that got out quick enough and got him arrested so that he didn’t have time (to stockpile weapons) once he made the posts,” Sheriff Johnson says. 

The sheriff says they also warned the churches that were mentioned so that they could step up security.

“The specific target or targets of the threat were briefed on the threat, talking about the churches,” Sheriff Johnson says.  “And action was taken by those places to protect those facilities even though we had the individual in custody.” 

Sheriff Johnson says this is an isolated incident and that they are grateful for the FBI’s help. 

“We do believe that the actions taken upon receiving this information prevented the potential act from actually being carried out,” he says.

The sheriff says Evans was previously arrested for domestic violence several years ago but no weapons were involved. 

Evans’s bond is set at $100,000 and he is set to appear before a grand jury in January, 2022. 

Categories: Crime, Featured, Local News