Texas man sentenced to 5 years in prison for threat to attack Turning Point USA convention in 2022

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — A Texas man who made an online threat of a mass attack on a convention of young conservative activists in Florida in 2022 was sentenced to five years in federal prison.

Federal prosecutors said Alejandro Richard Velasquez Gomez, 20, of San Antonio posted a threat on social media to attack the Turning Point USA Student Action Summit in Tampa. Turning Point is a Donald Trump-aligned group that organizes young people on college campuses into conservative activism. Velasquez pleaded guilty in 2023 to a charge of interstate threatening communication and was sentenced Wednesday.

Investigators said Velasquez posted on Instagram that the first day of the convention would be “the day of retribution the day I will have revenge against all of humanity." Velasquez had bought a plane ticket to fly from Austin to Tampa on July 22 but canceled the ticket the night before his flight.

In court documents, investigators said they they believed Velasquez had planned an attack similar to a violent rampage in 2014 in which Elliot Rodger, 22, killed six students and wounded more than a dozen others near the University of California, Santa Barbara, before killing himself.

In a statement announcing the sentence, federal prosecutors said Velasquez tried to obstruct the FBI investigation by using a group of minor girls to help him delete information from his online accounts, and contacting witnesses to hide evidence and influence testimony.

“This man used social media to broadcast the message that he intended to travel across the country and carry out a violent act at an event catering to young political activists,” said U.S. Attorney Jaime Esparza for the Western District of Texas. “Fortunately, his post was reported to officials who intervened."