FENTON (WJRT) (3/15/2018) - A Fenton man is facing four terrorism-related charges after allegedly threatening to kill one of 34 coworkers involved in a joint venture between two Southeast Michigan automotive suppliers.
Prosecutor David Leyton printed the attachment to Challis' email. It shows a shotgun and ammunition. Leyton said Challis did not own the weapon.
Police say Stephen Challis, who works for Flex Live Smarter Corp. of Farmington Hills, was part of a joint project with the Nexteer Automotive employees at three facilities.
On Friday, authorities say he received information about the project that made him angry. He is accused of writing and sending an email to 34 people working on the joint Nexteer-Flex project stating that he would kill one of them and they need to decide who it would be.
The coworkers reported the email to police in Auburn Hills and Farmington Hills, who immediately launched an investigation. They learned Challis works from his Fenton home, so Oakland County authorities contacted the Fenton Police Department about the case.
The FBI was brought into the investigation after Fenton police talked with Challis about the allegedly threatening email. He was arrested this week.
Police also seized two rifles, three laptops, a cell phone and a tablet computer from Challis' home.
Challis was arraigned Thursday on two counts of terrorism and two counts of using a computer to commit terrorism. All four charges carry a maximum sentence of up to 20 years in prison.
He was released on $60,000 bond, placed on an electronic tether and put on house arrest.
"Making threats to shoot and kill others is something law enforcement and my office take very seriously,” said Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton. “Our nation has experienced too many tragedies over the years with mass shootings in the workplace, in schools and other locations and anyone who makes threats to carry out such acts will be held accountable under the law.”
He noted that Michigan law specifically says suspects facing terrorism charges cannot defend themselves by claiming they didn't intend to or didn't have the means to carry out whatever they threatened.
“This is not something to joke around about and the law is very clear about that,” Leyton said. “I am not going to second guess the true intentions of an individual who makes a threat to commit mass violence with a gun.”
He said Challis is being treated the same way the prosecutor's office has handled the spate of school threats this winter.
“The message I want to send is this: if you make such threats, you risk being arrested, charged, and prosecuted under the law,” Leyton said.