FBI: Texas man threatened attack on GOP youth conference held in Tampa

A 19-year-old from Texas is accused of making threats against young conservatives at a conference in Tampa. Now, federal officials said he is in custody.

According to the FBI, Alejandro Velasquez-Gomez wrote social media posts, threatening to carry out a mass attack at the Turning Point USA's Student Action Summit (SAS) held at the Tampa Convention Center last month. Former President Trump was one of the speakers at the event as well as Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The federal complaint said Velasquez-Gomez threatened "revenge" on the attendees of the event. His alleged plan was to execute a "day of retribution" similar to the shooting rampage carried out by Elliot Rodger in 2014, when he killed six people and injured 14 others by gunshot, stabbing, and vehicle ramming near the campus of the University of California, Santa Barbara. 

Rodger then died by suicide.

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Velasquez-Gomez purchased a plane ticket to fly from Austin to Tampa, but canceled the night before his flight, the FBI said.

He was charged with making threatening interstate communications. In addition, during a search of Gomez’s cell phone, the FBI also found images of child pornography.

The SAS is touted as America's biggest conference for young conservatives, a celebration of "youth and freedom" aimed at energizing student activists. Five thousand students from all 50 states converged for the event.

The motive for Gomez’s alleged threat isn’t known, but the current, heated political climate is cause for concern among activists. 

"On both sides," said Jeff Hawks of Community Patriots, "And it's just created a climate where political violence, threatening rhetoric, have become the new norm."

Hawks, whose group supports conservative ideals, did not attend last month’s conference, but he said people’s political views increasingly make them targets of violent threats, with no tolerance for differing views.