MUNCIE, Ind. — A 37-year-old Muncie man has been sentenced to four years in prison after threatening to blow up a juvenile magistrate’s home if she didn’t rule in his favor.
John Armstrong pleaded guilty to intimidation, a Level 5 felony, on May 11, 2022.
According to court documents, the threat was first made on April 19, 2021, when Armstrong had been meeting with a case manager who had been trying to help Armstrong figure out ways to get his kids back. During the meeting, Armstrong reportedly said “if that judge doesn’t move my kids with my family, I will blow up her house.”
The case manager reportedly told Armstrong that his words could be taken as a threat. Armstrong is alleged to have responded by saying, “It’s not like I have any C-4 or anything,” and then laughing.
The juvenile magistrate who was the target of Armstrong’s threats later reported that during Zoom meetings with Armstrong he had been sure to display a handgun in plain sight of the camera. With his bomb threat, the judge told police she thought him showing her he had a gun could be taken as another form of threatening her.
Police then reviewed a Zoom court proceeding from April 26, 2021, where Armstrong could be seen brandishing a handgun during the court proceeding and pointing it out a vehicle’s window. When the juvenile magistrate asked Armstrong in the video if he had a firearm, Armstrong reportedly answered, “No, I don’t believe in guns. Guns kill people.”
Armstrong was arrested on April 30, 2021, and charged with intimidation. When he was arrested, police asked Armstrong if he owned a handgun and he reportedly stated that he did not own a gun. When presented with a photo of him pointing a handgun, Armstrong told police it was a BB gun.
After his sentencing, Delaware County Prosecuting Attorney Eric Hoffman said, “I will not tolerate threats of violence made against judicial officials or attempts at intimidating them. This type of conduct threatens our entire system of government.”
Hoffman went on to say that being threatened “is not part of the job” and stated that threats of violence or intimidation against judicial officers “are very similar to witness tampering.”
“My office will not idly sit by and allow intimidation of judicial officials to occur,” Hoffman said. “We will act swiftly and decisively within the bounds of the law.”