PORTLAND, Ore.—A federal criminal complaint was unsealed today charging a Salem, Oregon man with threatening Social Security Administration (SSA) officials after being denied Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.
Erick Carlsen, 45, is charged with transmitting threatening communications in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 875(c).
According to the complaint, on July 24, 2019, Carlsen allegedly engaged in threatening behavior at an SSA benefits review hearing in Salem. At the hearing, Carlsen yelled at the Administrative Law Judge and threatened future physical violence. Salem police officers responded and Carlsen left without further incident. Carlsen livestreamed his actions on Facebook and later posted additional threats.
On September 11, 2019, Carlsen left a voicemail for an SSA Office of Inspector General Agent in which he said, “I’m going to go to this hearing and people are going to [expletive] pay. Do you understand? You guys are going to [expletive] pay.” The same day, Carlsen posted another threat on Facebook entitled “Why do People Go on Shooting Sprees.” In the post, Carlsen claimed that he would “…make the front page and air on every TV station” and “…make sure the whole country stands up and takes notice…”
The next day, investigators from the Federal Protective Service (FPS) interviewed Carlsen at his home in Salem. During the conversation, Carlsen was visually agitated and appeared to be preparing for a fight. Carlsen told the investigators he suffered from mental health issues that cause anger and that he does not leave his property because he is never sure what he will do. When they discussed his upcoming SSA hearing, Carlsen said that he would not bring weapons, but that he could not promise he wouldn’t hurt anyone.
A concerned citizen notified law enforcement of Carlsen’s Facebook posts and later told investigators, “I really feel like he has the potential to follow through.” On September 17, 2019, Carlsen was arrested by the Marion County Sheriff’s Office without incident.
Carlsen made his first appearance in federal court today in Portland. He will be arraigned on October 16, 2019.
This case was investigated by the SSA Office of Inspector General, FPS, FBI, Marion County Sheriff’s Office and Salem Police Department and is being prosecuted by Rachel Sowray, Special Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.
A criminal complaint is only an accusation of a crime, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Anyone who has information about real or perceived threats of violence should call the FBI at (503) 224-4181 or submit a tip online at https://tips.fbi.gov. For immediate threats to life and safety, please call 9-1-1.