‘It’s all about voter fraud,’ man charged with election day threat says
WASHINGTON, Pa. — A man charged with threatening to shoot everyone at the South Franklin Township fire hall the morning of the general election was held for further court proceedings at a preliminary hearing Monday.
Christopher T. Queen, 48, of Kane, Elk County, Pennsylvania, arrived just after 8 a.m. Nov. 6 to vote at the South Franklin 2 precinct, but he was not registered there or anywhere in Washington County.
He said he had been offered $100 and a gun to vote a straight-party ticket, but did not identify which party.
Under questioning by Assistant District Attorney Nathan Michaux, Judge of Elections Cynthia Riley said she asked Queen where he last voted, and he replied “Butler County.”
When Riley told him he’d have to see the staff of the elections office at the Courthouse Square office building in Washington, Queen threatened to return to the poll and “shoot the polling place up,” she testified Monday before District Judge Ethan Ward.
After hearing the threat, Riley called the elections office staff, who notified state police. State police and sheriff’s deputies protected the polling place, which remained open. Queen was taken into custody about 90 minutes later.
During the hearing, Queen sat with his legs crossed, leaning one elbow on the counsel table and wearing flip-flops on his bare feet, swinging the upper foot back and forth.
Assistant Public Defender Kristin Fiori said she had no comment after the hearing, during which Ward held Queen for court on a felony charge of making terroristic threats and misdemeanor disorderly conduct. The magistrate noted Queen’s original $10,000 bond had been raised to $50,000 cash. He was returned to Washington County jail.
Riley, who has known Queen for many years, said after the hearing she hopes he receives help rather than a jail sentence. Queen grew up in the area and attended McGuffey schools.
“It breaks my heart,” said election board clerk Joanne Zelensky. “I know he’s had some mental issues.” She said she did not fear Queen, but one voter appeared to be upset by the incident.
“Five years ago, we never even would have thought to call” the elections office or police, she continued. But today, “you want to err on the side of caution.”
Asked about the charges, Queen said before the hearing, “It’s all about voter fraud,” before entering a conference room with Fiori.
Questioned as he left the magisterial office, Queen referred reporters to “CryptoStorm on Twitter.” Several accounts using the term center on Bitcoin, a cryptocurrency.
Riley said Queen also came to the polling station on the day of the May primary, but when he was told he was not registered in Washington County, he left without incident. Voter records show Queen voted in person that day at the Highland precinct in Elk County.