Man arrested after allegedly threatening to kidnap Wichita mayor over Covid-19 mask mandate

The mayor of Wichita, Kansas, says a man charged with threatening to kidnap him was upset over the city’s COVID-19 mask ordinance.

Meredith Dowty, 59, is facing a criminal threat charge after officials were “alerted to threatening statements directed toward city of Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple,” according to a news release from Wichita police.

According to Sedgwick County Detention Center records, Dowty was booked at 6:05 p.m. Friday with no bail amount set. CNN has been unable to determine whether he has an attorney.

Whipple told CNN he gets threats periodically, but the details of “this one seemed different.”

He said a detective called him and read the text messages that were “sent to someone else who knew this person, but also knew me.” The Wichita Eagle reported that the texts were originally sent to another city official.

The mayor says he does not have copy of the messages. However, he does recall that “it was anger over the mask ordinance that we got through. Anger over, I think really, just Covid in general.”

“Obviously, the person (who sent the texts) was very angry, but also very detailed in what it sounded like they wanted to do,” he added. “They wanted the address, my address.

“And also, this threat was more specific about kidnapping me and cutting my throat,” he said. “Those were what was read to me. They were graphic.”

The Wichita Police Department’s statement did not detail what the alleged threat was about. It said the investigation is ongoing and will be presented to the district attorney.

The Wichita Eagle reported that Dowty is a retired city firefighter who the city council honored in 2008 for helping save a police officer who was shot in the line of duty.

The City of Wichita approved an ordinance in July requiring people to wear facial coverings in public spaces and extended the ordinance last month.

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