A New Mexico state Senator fled his home Sunday after receiving multiple intimidating voicemail messages over the weekend, saying the threats were connected to his recent criticisms of a local protest against COVID-19 restrictions where many attendees were not wearing masks or social distancing.
Jacob Candelaria received the messages, which included homophobic slurs against the openly gay senator, on Saturday night and Sunday morning. In one recording, the caller can be heard saying “we’re going to get you out one way or another.”
Candelaria started receiving messages around 10:00 p.m. on Saturday, and contacted police at 2:00 a.m. Sunday morning after receiving several more.
The messages were sent hours after the senator appeared on a newscast criticizing a protest against COVID-19 restrictions outside the statehouse. Candelaria criticized the protesters for not wearing masks and behaving irresponsibly while COVID-19 cases continue to rise.
In the morning, Candelaria asked his private security detail to trace the caller’s phone number. The caller had “an extensive criminal history” and an “open warrant,” the state Senator said.
He later claimed police provided little assistance.
“We reached out for help today from our state to protect us. That help had been denied,” Candelaria wrote on Twitter.
“The state police came to my house 13 hours later. I played these tapes, their response was to yell and my husband and I for being upset. When I asked if they thought this was a threat, they said ‘meh, depends how you hear it.’”
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Candelaria then fled his home in Albuquerque citing fear for his family’s safety following recent threats to politicians — such as the foiled kidnapping plot of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
“I have no idea how I can keep my family safe right now other than leave,” he said. “They do not have the right to make death threats like this and have it go unaccountable.”
New Mexico State Police spokesman Lt. Mark Soriano said the agency is actively handling the threats against Senator Candelaria. He also said the initial response by the state police is under review.