Witness shares story ahead of hearing for man charged with making anti-Semitic threats

Posted at 10:24 PM, Mar 23, 2017

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- A man from Grand Rapids who's accused of threatening to shoot children and people of Jewish descent is set to appear in court Friday morning. David Lenio was arrested at his family's home last month. He's now facing felony charges for tweeting threats of mass shootings and threats against Jewish people.

Lenio was behind bars in Montana in 2015 for making similar threats. That case was featured in an Investigation Discovery documentary about white supremacy. A man featured in the documentary is Jonathan Hutson, who is testifying as a witness in Friday's hearing.

The allegations against Lenio are something Hutson says he's all too familiar with. Hutson says his encounter with the suspect began on Valentine's Day 2015 when Hutson tweeted about a terror attack in Denmark.

"I was tweeting about Jihadi terrorists who had shot and killed three free speech advocated in Copenhagen, Denmark," said Hutson. "I said free speech would not be silenced despite the eruption of gunfire in Copenhagen today."

From there, Hutson says Lenio tweeted back at him.

"In response, this man I never met or heard of started tweeting to me a bunch of anti-Semitic rants about how he hated Jews, which seemed off topic to me," said Hutson.

Hutson reported the threats to police. Lenio ended up spending five months behind bars.

"As a concerned dad I knew I couldn't live with myself if I didn't do everything possible to stop a bad man with a gun who was aiming apparently to write a name for himself in the blood of America's school kids," said Hutson.

After serving his time, Lenio was released and moved back to Grand Rapids under the agreement that he not be on social media, have access to guns, or have any contact with witnesses in his previous case. However, police and Hutson say that didn't last long.

"Since he's returned to Grand Rapids, David Lenio has tweeted his notion of getting a gun with enough ammunition to shoot 99 school kids, so it's clear that he needs help and I'm here to see that he gets it," Hutson says.

In the Investigation Discovery documentary, Lenio's father - a prominent investment banker at Tillerman and Company - says his son suffers from mental illness. On Thursday, Hutson told FOX 17 he hopes Lenio receives the help he needs so he doesn't take action on his threats.

"I hope the court orders a mental health evaluation and appropriate treatment for him because he needs an intervention," said Hutson. "You're not going to be able to jail the hate and rage and violent impulses out of this man, he needs mental health care. I think one day, filled with rage, he's going to make good on his threats."

Investigators say Lenio has known ties to white nationalist groups. He's currently facing felony charges for using a computer to commit a crime, a seven-year felony and aggravated stalking, a five-year felony.