A 47-year-old trans-identified male was arrested in Illinois after allegedly making threats to shoot children in their schools as a backlash against transphobic “bullying” by society.
Jason Willie, also known as Alexia Willie, was arrested by police in Perry County on August 14 after the Springfield-area FBI was tipped off to a “suspicious” live-stream on social media. In the stream, an individual later identified as Willie made a number of threats, including suggesting that plots were currently in place to shoot local children while they were at school. No specific institution was named in the video.
Speaking to independent news outlet Reduxx, Perry County Sheriff Chad Howard said that his deputies, along with officers from the nearby Washington County Police Department, rushed to Willie’s home after being notified by the FBI.
While Willie’s male partner cooperated fully with police, Willie began “acting up” and started resisting arrest while his Miranda warning was being read. An officer from Washington County was then forced to tase him in order to get him into a police vehicle.
During the police interview, Willie made multiple references to the shooting at Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee, where a trans-identified female killed six people earlier this year.
“In the interview, he used ammunition from the Tennessee shooting. I didn’t even bring it up,” Sheriff Howard told Reduxx. “Willie mentioned that the transgender individual in Tennessee was tired of being made fun of, and he used that as a reason why he was speaking on behalf of the transgender community.”
Police were also initially under the impression that multiple individuals may have been involved in the alleged shooting plots due to the way in which Willie had worded his threats during the live-stream. The disturbing statements included “we’re going to shoot your kids,” and “the FBI can’t stop us,” according to Sheriff Howard.
“At the time, we were under the impression that, possibly, there was more than one person involved. As it turns out, he was speaking about the transgender community,” he said. “He made the comment in a [police] interview when asked about what he meant by ‘we’ and ‘us.’ He said he was specifically tired of being made fun of and bullied for being transgender. So when he was saying ‘we’ and ‘us’ he was representing the transgender community as a whole.”
Because Willie was arrested hours before schools opened the next day, no classes were cancelled. But officers from Perry County did show up to the Junior High and Elementary schools in the area as a precautionary measure.
After his initial arrest, Willie was released on a $0 bond just 48 hours after being booked. He was ultimately charged with resisting arrest, as the threats were deemed too vague to pursue legally.
But shortly following his release, the FBI contacted Perry County once again after Willie began making similar statements on social media. Though FBI agents attended Willie’s property and questioned him in their van, Sheriff Howard confirmed that they once again did not have enough evidence to charge him.
Willie has yet to enter a plea on his charge of resisting arrest, and even if he is found guilty, Sheriff Howard told Reduxx he would likely only receive a fine.
“It’s more or less going to end up going to be a hearing. Now with the state of Illinois having the SAFE-T Act, which went into effect on September 18, those types of crimes are no longer containable. You just bring [a suspect] in for booking, processing, and biometrics and then you release them with a court date and it is all handled by the courts from there on out.”
Willie’s next court appearance is scheduled for January 2 of next year.