Police say government entities have received threats in the past month due to pandemic stress

Published: Nov. 25, 2020 at 8:12 PM EST
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NORTH CENTRAL, W.Va (WDTV) - First Work Force West Virginia and now the governor, both have received cyber threats from within the last month according to criminal complaints from West Virginia State police.

“With everything going on people are frustrated for various reasons including the pandemic,” said Sgt. Phillip Cork of the Bridgeport Detachment of the West Virginia State Police.

Two people in West Virginia have allegedly taken their frustrations out on government entities.

According to State Police, 49-year-old Stephen Long tweeted terroristic threats to Governor Jim Justice and his staff just last week, calling for the public execution of the governor and other state officials.

The criminal complaint said Long told troopers he was exercising his First Amendment right to free speech with the tweet.

A similar instance happened last month. Police say Workforce West Virginia representatives received a threatening email from 34-year-old Joshua Scott Pierce expressing his frustration after not getting ahold of anyone about his unemployment.

He allegedly wrote:

“if someone doesn’t get on the phone with me in the next 48 hours I’m going to take this sledgehammer in my bedroom and I’m going to the local unemployment office here and I’m going to knock on the door until someone answers or the glass falls out of it I’m tired of playing with you people”

Pierce’s mother contacted 5 News stating that she doesn’t believe what her son said was threatening.

“Just take into consideration the words that you use, whether you have the intention of causing harm or not, sometimes words can be misconstrued,” Cork said.

Clinical psychologist Dr. Edward Baker says these instances are no surprise as behavior like this is seen in times of uncertainty

“It’s easy to blame the government or healthcare professionals or politicians because there’s really no answer to the dilemma,” he said.

Dr. Baker said the loss of anything, from income to a relationship, is especially hard to deal with during the pandemic, but there are ways to handle it.

“The main thing is to practice gratitude, to be thankful for the things that you do have and not dwell on any grief,” he said.

He also suggested finding a new hobby, expressing your feelings to family and friends, exercising and having a healthy diet can be helpful during these stressful times.

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