Texas

He threatened to burn down a Texas TV station, called journalist 'dead man walking,' authorities say

Jason Eric Bewley, 47, threatened to burn down Bryan, Texas TV station KBTX, according to authorities.
Jason Eric Bewley, 47, threatened to burn down Bryan, Texas TV station KBTX, according to authorities.

Another case of violent threats made toward journalists will play itself out in the court system, less than a week after a gunman entered the Capital Gazette newsroom in Annapolis, Md. and killed five people.

Jason Eric Bewley, of Bryan, Texas, was arrested last week in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, near Charlotte. He's been charged with transmitting threats through interstate communications, a federal crime, according to jail records.

According to his federal indictment, which came down April 11 and was only recently unsealed by the courts, Bewley threatened to burn down a Texas TV station in a telephone tirade after harassing the station's general manager Mike Wright through email, and calling him "a dead man walking."

He spent nearly the next three months on the run, the Houston Chronicle reported, until authorities found him in North Carolina.

"It's too bad you're a dead man walking," Bewley emailed Wright in May 2017, the indictment reads. "I will split your skull open Mike Wright KBTX."

KBTX is a TV station based in Bewley's hometown of Bryan, Texas. Wright has served as the station's general manager since 2003 and has a background in sports play-by-play announcing, most recently being named the Texas A&M PA field announcer in 2017, according to the station.

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Mike Wright Texas A&M sports information

Less than a month later, according to the indictment, Bewley ripped into another staffer over the phone, threatening to "come down there and rip your eyes out and skull f--- you.

"I'll burn the f----ng building to the ground," Bewley threatened, according to the indictment.

It was a Houston grand jury that indicted Bewley after a judge there issued a warrant for his arrest in April. He is in the process of being extradited back to Texas, where he is due in federal court for his next appearance on Friday.

It's all unfolding in the wake of the mass shooting at the Capital Gazette last Thursday, the same day Bewley was ordered to be extradited to Houston, according to court records.

In Annapolis, Jarrod Ramos, the accused newsroom shooter, allegedly held a grudge against the newspaper, and repeatedly targeted newsroom staffers with obscene Twitter rants. In the Texas case, Bewley's alleged motives aren't clear.

Bewley has a history with news outlets, though. He was accused of throwing a cinder block through a KBTX window and harassing several staffers in the station's parking lot in 2008. Earlier that same week in 2008, he also caused a minor disturbance at the town's newspaper, the Bryan Eagle, and at the Brazos County District Attorney's Office, KBTX reported.

Aerial footage shows police on scene and people evacuating after a gunman opened fire in the Capital Gazette offices in Annapolis, Md.

The names and portraits of the victims from the shooting in the newsroom of the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Md., on Thursday, June 28, 2018.

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