WILTON MANORS, Fla. (WSVN) – Wilton Manors residents can kick back and relax this Labor Day knowing a potential threat to their community has been placed behind bars.
On Saturday, a man accused of making social media threats of violence toward members of Wilton Manors’ gay community was arrested and taken into federal custody on an unrelated charge.
According to police, Florida Highway Patrol troopers took 50-year-old Craig Jungwirth into custody in Osceola County after he was found driving with a suspended license. A Broward County judge had issued an arrest warrant for him for allegedly violating bond in a pending misdemeanor case.
“Mr. Jungwirth has been apprehended. He’s currently in custody,” said Wilton Manors Police Cmdr. Gary Blocker.
Police said Jungwirth lives with his mother in Orlando, which is 200 miles from Wilton Manors, but his Facebook posts rattled the community up until his arrest.
The former Wilton Manors resident’s arrest brought relief to those who live and work in the neighborhood. “I wasn’t going to let him ruin my holiday,” said Wilton Manors resident James Greaves. “So now, since he’s arrested, that makes it so much better.”
“This is a guy with nothing to lose,” said Nick Berry, owner of Rumors Bar and Grill, “and well known to have guns, so it was definitely a credible treat.”
Police said Jungwirth became a top priority after he posted threatening messages on a Facebook account aimed at gay residents in the community, last Tuesday.
However, he has not been charged in connection with those threats.
Multiple nightclub and bar owners, as well as employees told 7News they have had run-ins with Jungwirth in the past.
“We were actually concerned he would show up again,” said Rumors Bar and Grill employee Joshua Weigand. “I absolutely feel relieved. We weren’t really sure what was going to happen.”
Ever since Jungwirth’s threats surfaced online, Rumors Bar and Grill has been taking extra precautions. “We hired extra security. Nick, the owner, actually hired armed guards over the weekend because the fact that it could be a real threat was upsetting.”
One of the epithet-riddled posts in Jungwirth’s Facebook page even references the June 12 mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando.
Police said Jungwirth has advertised himself as an area event and party planner. He is accused of writing, “My events are selling out cause you [gay slur] are total patsies. None of you deserve to live. If you losers thought the Pulse nightclub shooting was bad, wait ’till you see what I’m planning for Labor Day.”
Another post read, “You can never catch a genius from MIT, and since you [gay slur] aren’t dying from AIDS anymore, I have a better solution to exterminate you losers.”
A third post reads, “I’m gonna be killing you [gay slur] faster than cops kill [racial slur]. Its time to clean up Wilton Manors from all you AIDS infested losers.”
“That Orlando thing affected all of us all pretty, pretty hard,” said Wilton Manors resident Gareth Chapman.
Blocker said the Wilton Manors Police has been working with the residents. “Immediately we’ve been communicating what we could with members of our community,” he said. “We beefed up patrols, we’ve beefed up Special Operations. We also met on Friday, door-to-door, with our local businesses.”
“[We are doing this] to provide them information on Jungwirth, information about the concerning posts and to let them know that we were going to be out there for them over this holiday weekend,” said Blocker. “We want to thank the members of our community who took the ‘See Something, Say Something’ initiative and reached out to us.”
Acquaintances told 7News Jungwirth is openly gay. He has denied writing those posts, even though he didn’t even read them when authorities asked him.
Jeff Scott, a security guard at Rumors Bar and Grill, understands the possibility of a tragedy. “I think he’s really capable of anything, from what I’ve experienced from the past,” he said. “I don’t understand where that comes from because he is gay, but he’s obviously got a lot of anger, hatred.”
The bar has a case pending against Jungwirth who they claim was caught on camera vandalizing the business with spray paint after he was angered over a pulled sponsorship in May of 2016.
The latest arrest warrant also reveals past complaints on file for stalking and harassment as well as incidents of sabotage and trespassing.
The FBI has taken over his case, and according to a federal complaint, he has been reported to the police before. The federal complaint stated, “multiple complaints for stalking and harassing behavior were documented, as well as incidents of sabotage, vandalism, and trespassing.”
The federal complaint goes on to detail an interview with one of the individuals who contacted Wilton Manors Police regarding the Facebook posts. The complainant stated they have filed multiple reports against Jungwirth. One of them resulted in a restraining order against him.
According to the federal complaint, the complainant also told officials in the past several months, Jungwirth sent them thousands of threatening text messages, Facebook messages and phone calls, many times with Jungwirth stating, “I’m going to get you.”
“There is something wrong with him inside,” Berry said.
With Jungwirth’s arrest, Wilton Manors residents felt free to enjoy Labor Day weekend without the added security concerns. “Wilton Manors doesn’t have to be in fear anymore,” said local resident Robin Almodobar.
Although Jungwirth is in custody, the investigation into his posts continues. “The word conclusion is obviously not correct because there is so much more we have to do,” said Wilton Manors Police Department Chief Paul O’Connell.
Jungwirth is expected to appear in federal court in Orlando on Tuesday.
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