A man who allegedly threatened to cut out U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott’s tongue because he felt his own voice was being “silenced” is charged with intimidation and telephone harassment.

Share story

A man who allegedly threatened to cut out the tongue of U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott — rattling the congressman so badly he brought a shovel to his office for protection — has been charged with intimidating a public servant and telephone harassment.

Jasper K. Bell, 27, is being held on $200,000 bail after prosecutors allege he showed up at McDermott’s Seattle office Friday and banged on the locked doors hard enough to shake furniture.

According to charging documents filed in King County Superior Court, Bell has repeatedly threatened and harassed McDermott so much that Bell’s voice and cellphone number are recognized by McDermott staffers.

On Friday, according to police and prosecutors, Bell called McDermott’s offices in Seattle and Washington, D.C., 23 times between noon and 1 p.m., demanding to speak to the congressman, asking for his address and making threats.

During one call, he threatened to cut out the congressman’s tongue because his own voice had been “silenced,” prosecutors allege. In another, he threatened to track down McDermott after the congressman’s retirement, according to the charges.

Prosecutors allege that Bell showed up at McDermott’s office, which was locked due to the arrest the previous day of a Bernie Sanders supporter in Seattle.

Witnesses told police Bell was yelling, banging on the windows and spitting. He left before police arrived, according to prosecutors.

Charging documents say McDermott had been in the gym when Bell showed up and was told by his staff to stay there.

Prosecutors said he told police he was so unnerved by the incident that he brought a shovel into his office “to use in self-defense if necessary” and canceled a public appearance Friday night.

Bell, who was arrested around 8 o’clock that evening, reportedly told police that he made the threats to McDermott in an attempt to get the representative to support Sanders instead of Hillary Clinton, prosecutors said.

McDermott told police he has been threatened three times in his 28-year career. In 2011, a California man was sentenced to eight months in prison and fined $54,000 for threatening the congressman.