RENO, Nev. (AP) — A federal judge has set a preliminary hearing next month for a 47-year-old Las Vegas man accused of threatening to kill U.S. Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev.
Louis Damato made his initial court appearance on two felony charges Friday via video with a U.S. magistrate.
Damato was arrested at a casino resort on the west edge of Las Vegas on March 16, the same day he’s accused of leaving an expletive-filled message on the voicemail at Titus’ congressional office in Washington, D.C., according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas.
Prosecutors said he made references to President Donald Trump while making his threats to kill Titus, a fifth-term congresswoman running for election in Las Vegas in November.
FBI special agent Tieara Jones said in an affidavit that Damato admitted that he had been calling Titus’ office for several days and left a message March 16 that said he planned to run against her and that he “would be able to shoot Representative Titus on Fifth Avenue and not lose a vote.”
The complaint filed March 19 said the 6:46 a.m. (EST) voicemail claimed that Titus was responsible for having him falsely evicted so he “bought a (expletive) gun, OK. I’m coming to DC to blow your (expletive) head off.”
Other parts of the message said “nobody will miss you and I won’t lose a vote” and “I won’t lose a vote because Donald Trump told me to tell you that.”
The president famously said on the campaign trail in Iowa in 2016: “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and wouldn’t lose any voters.”
A U.S. Capitol police detective traced a ping to the telephone used to make the call to a parking lot in Las Vegas and then to the Red Rock Resort, where Las Vegas police officers determined he had registered as a guest, the complaint said.
Damato was arrested in the valet area and subsequently charged with making threats against a U.S. official and using interstate commerce to transmit a threat.
Magistrate Judge Daniel Albregts appointed Damato a federal public defender Friday and ordered him to remain in federal custody at a halfway house under unspecified “special conditions” until his preliminary hearing set for April 17.