Man sentenced for sending threatening messages to Maryland Asian-American doctor over COVID-19 vaccine

A Texas man has been sentenced to six months in federal prison for sending a threatening message to a Maryland Asian-American medical doctor of who publicly advocated for the COVID-19 vaccine. 

According to court documents, Scott Eli Harris, 52, of Aubrey, Texas, sent a threatening message from his phone to a Maryland doctor who had been a vocal proponent of the COVID-19 vaccine.

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Harris’ message included violent statements including "Never going to take your wonder drug. My 12 gauge promises I won’t .… I can’t wait for the shooting to start." The message also referenced the doctor’s Asian-American race and national origin.  

"While we are all entitled to our own opinion, no one has the right to threaten the life of someone because of race, national origin, or because of holding different views," said U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland, Erek L. Barron. "Threats like these will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

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"Threats of violence, especially those driven by racial animus and misguided beliefs concerning the COVID-19 pandemic will not be tolerated," said Assistant Attorney General Clarke. "Members of our Asian American Pacific Islander communities should never have to live in fear of violence because of their race or national origin."

"Today’s sentence should serve as a warning to those who threaten or take violent action based on belief or ideology and breaks the law, that the FBI will enforce the rule of law," said Special Agent in Charge, Thomas J. Sobocinski.