WILMINGTON, Ohio (AP) — Authorities are investigating the motives of a gunman they say tried to break into the FBI office in Cincinnati, fled, and died hours later in a rural alley with law enforcement, a case unfolding as the FBI warns agents to take extra precautions amid rising social media threats to its employees and facilities.
Officials have warned of an increase in threats against federal agents in the days following a search of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.
In the Cincinnati case, officials said a man tried to enter the visitor screening area at the FBI office on Thursday morning and fled when officers confronted him. He was then spotted by a state trooper along Interstate 71 and fired shots as the trooper chased him, said Ohio State Highway Patrol spokesman Lt. Nathan Dennis. .
The suspect eventually got out of his car on a rural road, exchanged gunfire with police and was injured, Dennis said. No one else was hurt.
Attempts at negotiations failed and police tried unsuccessfully to use unspecified “less lethal tactics”, but the suspect was shot as he raised a weapon towards officers, Dennis said. The man died at the scene.
Dennis said he could not comment on Thursday whether the suspect said anything to officers during the confrontation.
The man was reportedly in Washington in the days leading up to the Jan. 6, 2021, uprising and may have been present at the Capitol on the day of the attack, according to a law enforcement official briefed on the matter. The official could not publicly discuss details of the investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity.
The suspect has been identified as Ricky Shiffer, 42, according to the law enforcement official. He has not been charged with any crime related to the Jan. 6 attack, the official said. Federal investigators are looking into whether Shiffer may have had ties to far-right groups, including the Proud Boys, the official said.
There have been mounting threats against FBI agents and offices across the country in recent days after federal agents executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago. On Gab, a social media site popular with white supremacists and anti-Semites, users warned they were preparing for an armed revolution.
Federal officials have also been tracking a range of other concerning chatter on Gab and other platforms threatening violence against federal agents. FBI Director Christopher Wray denounced the threats as he visited another FBI office in Nebraska on Wednesday.
“Violence against law enforcement is not the answer no matter who you’re mad at,” Wray said Wednesday in Omaha.
The FBI also warned its agents on Wednesday to avoid potential protesters and ensure their security key cards are ‘not visible outside of FBI space’, citing an increase in social media threats. against office staff and facilities.
The warning did not specifically mention the Mar-a-Lago raid this week, but attributed the online threats to “recent media reports of FBI investigative activity”.
Welsh-Huggins reported from Columbus, Ohio. Associated Press writers Michael Balsamo in Washington and Jim Mustian in New York contributed to this report.