The Boston Police Department said it is investigating whether one of its officers took part last week in a rally and ensuing siege on the US Capitol, and the agency is examining social media posts in which the alleged officer threatened Vice President Mike Pence.
Police spokesman Sergeant Detective John Boyle declined to identify the officer, but confirmed the alleged social media posts that are at the center of the investigation.
Those posts are no longer available on the social media platform Twitter, but were captured by another Twitter user and publicly shared with the department. Boyle, who had said earlier this week that the department was not aware of any officers involved in the rally or riots, said Thursday the department would investigate after the Globe raised questions.
The posts were allegedly made on the day of the Capitol insurrection by a person with the moniker @mailboxjoe. That person shared a picture online of the D.C. rally and wrote: “Today is a day for choosing. Today there will only two parties in America. Traitors and Patriots!”
In another alleged post, @mailboxjoe appeared to threaten Pence.
“I hope you never sleep well again @VP your Treasonous Act lead to the murder of an innocent girl and the death of America. You are not a Godley man. I guess @LLinWood was right about you all along.”
Twitter user L. Lin Wood, an attorney who led an unsuccessful legal effort to overturn the presidential election results, accused Pence earlier that day on social media of being a traitor and communist, and stated, “Get the firing squads ready. Pence goes FIRST.”
Boston police and the Globe know the suspected identity of the officer, but the Globe is not naming him because it cannot confirm the authenticity of the posts. He did not respond to repeated requests for comment, nor did the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association.
Another Twitter user had taken screenshots of @mailboxjoe’s posts, then shared them online with the Boston Police Department’s social media account and identified @mailboxjoe as a veteran officer. It does not appear that the department acted on that message prior to Globe inquiries.
Boyle declined to elaborate on the police probe, or say whether the department was investigating other officers who may have attended the Jan. 6 rally. He said the department would look into any allegations, and pointed out that the FBI is also investigating misconduct at the Capitol.
A spokeswoman for the FBI in Boston said the agency’s investigation is being led by the bureau’s Washington, D.C., office, though investigators here are assisting. She would not confirm or deny any investigation.
The @mailboxjoe account has since been deleted from the social media platform. Material archived on the web shows the user had identified previously as a “Beer drinking, Marine Vet, constitutional conservative who believes in peace through strength.” They used an image of a cartoon law enforcement officer and listed their location as “Title Town, USA, Boston Mass.”
In other posts archived online, @mailboxjoe shared conservative news stories, right-wing memes, and messages expressing support for police officers.
Across the country, police departments have sought to identify whether officers went to the Capitol. The New York Police Department said it would proactively assist federal investigators in trying to identify whether its officers were involved, and Seattle police placed two officers on leave after reports they attended the protests at the Capitol.
Earlier this week, the Department of Justice charged two Virginia police officers who, while off duty, attended the riots and entered the Capitol; they were identified in photographs of the rioters inside the Capitol building.
Capitol Police reported that some rioters flashed badges to gain access to the building and avoid resistance.
Several busloads of Massachusetts Trump supporters attended the “Stop the Steal” rally that preceded the march on the Capitol.
On Thursday, the FBI announced the arrest a day earlier of a New Hampshire man, Thomas Gallagher, 61, who allegedly joined the mob inside the Capitol building and refused to leave. He was charged with violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, and knowingly entering or remaining in restrict grounds without authority, and knowingly engaging in disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.
Milton J. Valencia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @miltonvalencia.