Michigan man arrested for making bomb threat that closed Capitol Building

Jan 8, 2021 at 3:30 pm
Michigan State Capitol. - Brian Charles Watson, Wikimedia Creative Commons
Brian Charles Watson, Wikimedia Creative Commons
Michigan State Capitol.

Felony charges have been filed against a man who made a phone call Thursday claiming there was a bomb at the Michigan Capitol building.

The building was temporarily closed while authorities determined there was no bomb. Still, Michael Varrone, 48, of Charlotte, was arrested outside his residence on Thursday, and the office of Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has charged him with felony terrorism charges.

The threat came a day after supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol, resulting in a clash that left at least five dead.

Varrone is charged with two counts of false report or threat of terrorism, a 20-year felony, and one count of false report or threat of bomb/harmful device, a four-year felony.

One count of false report or threat of terrorism is related to a series of six phone calls Varrone allegedly made on Dec. 12, in which he threatened State Rep. Cynthia Johnson and her family.

Johnson, a Detroit Democrat, was criticized by Republicans after she posted a video on Facebook for making what Republicans considered "threats," including telling Trump supporters, "Be careful. Walk lightly. We ain’t playing with you. Enough of the shenanigans. Enough is enough."

The other two charges against Varrone stem from Thursday's bomb threat.

The court set Varrone's bond at $50,000 cash.

"Threats to our democracy must not be tolerated, and my office will work tirelessly to ensure the people who work and visit our Capitol can do so safely," Nessel said in a statement. "I am grateful this incident did not result in any serious injury or harm. However, I hope this incident and the disgraceful tragedy that occurred Wednesday at our nation's Capitol in Washington, D.C., can serve as reminders of the security measures we must work to maintain and improve to protect the sanctity of our democracy and the safety of our people."

Around 6:45 a.m. on Thursday, Varrone allegedly called the Michigan Capitol Building and said everyone needed to evacuate because the building was going to explode. By 9 a.m. authorities determined there was no bomb.

Stay on top of Detroit news and views. Sign up for our weekly issue newsletter delivered each Wednesday.