In January, a Colorado man came to Provo and posted on Facebook that he would be “shooting up a public place soon and being the next mass shooter.”
It was the weekend of Women’s Marches when thousands of women would gather together across the nation, including in Provo.
Stating that he was a virgin and never had a girlfriend, Christopher Cleary, 27, garnered national attention when he wrote he planned on “killing as many girls as I see.”
On Thursday, he was sentenced to zero to 5 years in prison for attempted threat of terrorism, a second-degree felony amended to a third-degree felony in the plea agreement.
“I’m just sorry for what happened,” Cleary said in 4th District Court.
Defense attorney Dustin Parmley said Cleary was removed from his parents when he was 4 years old and his lack of impulse control is connected to a mental illness diagnosed at age 10.
Although Cleary has previous felony convictions in Denver for stalking and threatening women, Parmley said the “inability to control his speech” never became actual violence.
“These threats were made in vague, not specific terms,” he said. “There is no evidence he was anywhere near those marches.”
Several law enforcement agencies in Colorado were monitoring his social media accounts and were alarmed by the Jan. 20 post.
“(All) I wanted was a girlfriend,” the Facebook message stated. “I’ve never had a girlfriend before and I’m still a virgin, this is why I’m planning on shooting up a public place soon and being the next mass shooter cause I’m ready to die and all the girls the turned me down is going to make it right by killing as many girls as I see.”
Investigators contacted Provo authorities after determining the social media message was reportedly posted in Provo.
Provo officers and FBI agents in Utah and Colorado then tracked Cleary’s phone to a McDonald’s at 1225 S. University Ave.
At the time of his arrest, Cleary did not have any weapons or ammunition or evidence of a plan, Parmley said.
“He took no steps to carry out the threat that he posted,” he explained. “He is extremely sorry for what he did. He understands that it is not appropriate.”
Judge Christine Johnson granted credit for 124 days Cleary had already served at the Utah County Jail. The Board of Pardons and Parole will decide the total amount of time Cleary will serve before he is extradited to Colorado.
“I don’t want to be in the position of guessing what Colorado is going to do,” she said.
Prosecutors said Colorado officials are reportedly planning on sentencing Cleary for violating probation and will possibly send him to prison.