S.C. civilian Air Force officer arrested in Florida for making threats about committing mass casualty event

Crime & Safety

Thomas James Stephan, a civilian contractor at Joint Base Charleston, was arrested for making threats Tuesday in Orlando, Florida (Orange County Jail booking photo)

ORANGE COUNTY, FL (WCBD) – A civilian Air Force officer at Joint Base Charleston was arrested in Florida this week after making threats against a hospital or military installation.

Authorities in Florida received a warning from law enforcement in South Carolina that a suspect, who was currently in their state, had made threats stating that he would commit suicide by cop and that there would be a shootout if he was stopped.

Warrants show 30-year-old Thomas James Stephan used his cellphone to send multiple text messages to a sworn law enforcement officer at Joint Base Charleston.

The warrants included a string of text messages between Stephan and the unnamed JBC officer in which Stephan talked about suicide by cop and committing a mass casualty during the back-and-forth conversation.

Investigators said Stephan even identified a hospital and military base as targets of causing an act of terrorism by driving his vehicle into a location with the intent to cause injury or death to multiple people.

“Don’t text again, of (sic) my next stop will be the biggest causukrt (sic) they’ve heard of. Make it myself, others involved is up to you,” he said in his messages. “Another text, or message and we make this from one death to mass case … it’s a lot what a car full of fuel can do to hospital.”

Stephan was eventually located on an overpass in Orlando, Florida on December 7th and detained by officers with the Orlando Police Department.

A warrant for his arrest was later issued by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement – who said after reading the affidavit there was enough probable cause to believe he violated Florida law.

He was booked at the Orange County Jail on a charge of written or electronic threats to kill, do bodily injury or conduct a mass shooting or an act of terrorism. He was not granted bond.

The case will be prosecuted by the State Attorney’s Office, 18th Judicial Circuit.

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