'It really pains me:' Rep. Cynthia Johnson responds after arrest of Capitol bomb threat suspect

Michigan Capitol Building
Posted at 6:11 PM, Jan 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-09 08:33:38-05

LANSING, Mich (WXYZ) — Friday in a Lansing courtroom, 48-year-old Michael Varrone of Charlotte appeared in court for the first time after allegedly making a bomb threat Thursday morning to the State Capitol in Lansing.

According to the charging documents released Friday, his threats go back to early December when he used the same cell phone to leave a voicemail for State Representative Thomas Albert saying "If there is one more threat by a Democratic person in Michigan that's supposed to represent me, I will personally come down there and take over that G***m building at the Capitol."

Varrone told investigators he was upset about a video posted online by Democratic State Representative Cynthia Johnson, where she called out "Trumpers," in response to racist threats she already received.

In that same December voicemail message, Varrone left her another threat, saying of Johnson “I'll personally take care of that m*********** and their whole f****** family. There will be no Johnsons left in Michigan.”

“It pains me to see what’s going on in our country. It really pains me,” Johnson said.

Rep. Johnson says she only learned of this threat after Varrone was arrested for the bomb threat. She questions why it took so long for him to be arrested. The charging documents say he ended the December threatening voicemail by stating and spelling his real name.

“I'm just really disappointed. How many others have made threats to me and they’ve located them and there’s no charges," Johnson wondered. “I feel that if I was a white woman, and these threats were made to me as a white woman, they would not have simply just dismissed them. That’s how I feel”

According to the charging documents, Varrone told investigators he made the bomb threat because he was upset at the current political climate and the events that took place Wednesday at the US Capitol.

“It is not a matter of if something happens, it’s a matter of when,” said Michigan Representative Sarah Anthony, Democrat from Lansing.

Representative Anthony and Representative Brenda Carter of Pontiac have been calling for an emergency meeting of the Capitol Commission to review safety at the Capitol Building.

A meeting has now been scheduled for Monday, January 11at 1 pm. A potential ban on open carrying firearms is on the agenda.

“I hope that they will realize and recognize now that this is not a game, this is not a hoax, there was warnings out on the internet before it happened in D.C., there’s warnings now,” Rep. Carter said.

The representatives are also calling for a ban of all firearms, not just open carry, from capitol grounds. They want a decision made before the session resumes on Wednesday.

“Before we step foot back in that State Capitol building, I want assurances that we will be safe,” Rep. Anthony said. "Anyone, any citizen that comes into that building should have an assurance they will be safe.”

In court, Michael Varrone told the judge he lives in Charlotte and has owns a flooring business called Capitol City Flooring with a handful of employees.

He was given a $50,000 bond and is facing a maximum total of 44 years in prison.