After a Washington State pharmacist was suspended from his job for several drunk driving arrests, he vowed to go “person-hunt” at the Veterans Affairs facility where he worked, threatening threatened to kill his supervisors and a VA investigator — as well as their families. and pets — because it would have ruined his career.
On Tuesday, Matthew Ruhmann Slater, 41, pleaded guilty to one count of making interstate threats, under a plea agreement filed in Seattle federal court. In doing so, Slater admitted to a series of disturbing allegations, including building an AR-15 from mail-order parts and scaring his targets by posted photos online of notorious Wisconsin cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer with the words “REVENGE,” along with photos of mass gunman Seung-Hui Cho, who shot dead 32 people at Virginia Tech. in 2007.
“I am extremely angry at VA Seattle for the emotional trauma they have put me through,” Slater texted a colleague after he was placed on leave. “But I won’t shoot you or any of the regular staff. Don’t worry that you’re safe, it’s upper management who should care and watch over their role [sic]… the AR-15 wasn’t made to hunt deer, rather people, “added,” VA Seattle ruined my life and my federal career and if I had to come down, I would definitely take it down. knock some of them down. . ”
The incident has not been previously reported.
In court records, Slater said he was reeling from his father’s death He recovered from cancer in June 2019 and started drinking to self-medicate. That fall, Slater was arrested for DUI twice in two days, ejecting from his car at 60 mph in an incident, adding to the chronic neck pain he already had. have a lifelong TMJ disorder. Being demoted at work for poor performance, followed by a suspension from the DUI, was too much for Slater, who, according to court records, also suffers from anxiety, OCD and bulimia, and His “scary behavior” began to respond to this combination of failures, according to a letter Slater’s mother sent the judge in his case.
Slater’s current troubles began on September 29, 2019, with his first DUI crash. Shortly after, Slater allegedly shoved an officer over, nearly pushing him into oncoming traffic, filing a complaint about the incident.
In the second incident, Slater ran over his car and was thrown from the vehicle, causing severe head injuries.
“Employees observed 26 empty beer cans in Slater’s vehicle,” the lawsuit states. “His blood alcohol level is a staggering .227.”
In January 2020, Slater’s bosses gave him administrative leave, pending his dismissal.
In late April 2020, according to court filings, Slater posted an image of an assault rifle on Facebook, writing, “It’s a picture of an AR-15 ……. a nice gun. Any VA employee should respect the second amendment, right? And for legal purposes, I’m simply observing ….. not a threat. ‘ He told a friend he might eventually delete the post, but “wants[ed] a few important people to see it first. “
On May 4, 2020, Court records say Slater complained to a Facebook friend that “some people at work discovered his arrest and told his superiors,” which is what got him suspended.
“So do you understand why I have an AR-15 on my profile?” Slater wrote, followed up the next day with, “Death to the worthy.”
Another post included the word “REVENGE”, all caps, with images of a decapitated person, a row of corpses, the late killer Jeffrey Dahmer and a mutilated deer. “I love cutting deer hooves with a butter knife while they’re still alive just to watch them falter,” Slater says below.
However, another showed up a photo of Virginia Tech shooter Seung-Hui Cho pointing his gun at the camera.
When a friend expressed concern about the violent nature of Slater’s Facebook posts, Slater replied, according to his plea, “I have nothing to lose. I want my co-workers to think I’m going to blow this place up. I do not care. ” Slater then clarified, “I have an AR-15 that I bought two weeks ago after a long wait. I was originally going to shoot myself with it, but maybe I’ll get some in those douches [sic] in Seattle VA hang out with me. They totally deserve it. I do not care anymore. I do not care. ”
During this time, Slater moved in with his mother, who lived in New Mexico. But he was still seething about having been mishandled by the VA, his confession affidavit stated.
On May 19, 2020, Slater posted on Facebook, “Sometimes in June an angel will [sic] it [sic] wings, It’s good and bad but always sad, both the joy and the pain that this brings. Sometimes in June a family has to say goodbye, and this month [two named VA employees] will die.”
Regarding being demoted prior to his suspension, Slater posted, “This new policy aims to keep injured people at work by demoting them to secretarial positions while they wait to be fired. , statistically speaking, will lead to *MASSACRE MASSIVE* in the federal workplace. ”
Prosecutors said that Slater again tried to cover himself up, adding, “And for legal reasons, ‘should look over their shoulder’ is not a direct threat. …. It’s just fantasy and isn’t legally true… But I was raised as a hunter and loved guns. I recently purchased an AR-15 with a 30-round magazine clip and a semi-automatic (which is different from my existing single-shot shotguns). The AR-15 is not made to hunt deer, but to hunt people.” After telling his friend on Facebook he “can’t say it’s true or I think you [sic] will call the FBI,” Slater texted, “Wait. CNN’s front page. I have nothing left to live for. It will be a pool of blood [sic]!!!!!!! ”
Two days later, Slater was visited by the local police.
Someone who saw Slater’s posts became concerned and called the police, according to a related court filing. His mother told officers that Slater suffered from mental health problems, did not take medication, and had purchased a rifle. She believes Slater is a suicide risk, but police did not find any guns in the home. Slater wouldn’t say anything without a lawyer, and the officers left.
The next day, Slater wrote on Facebook, “Hello police if you are there and following my Facebook. Good luck finding my newly purchased AR-15. You can get subpoenas and knock on doors in Albuquerque or Kent but you’ll never find that’s my special hideout.”
After being accidentally put in a mental hospital for seven days, Slater was arrested on June 4, 2020, on state charges and extradited from New Mexico to Washington. Court documents say the state case was dropped in favor of the federal case.
Slater spent more than a year in prison, and on March 9, 2021, he pleaded guilty to threatening a federal official. The impact of Slater’s behavior on his intended goals was “profound,” according to one of the filings, which states that Slater’s recent detention was, for them, “a thing of the past.” worrying.” The feared targets were out of work and received a protective order against Slater, the filing said.
On June 15, 2021, Judge Ricardo S. Martinez sentenced Slater, who had no criminal record, served time, and three years on supervised release. But just 48 hours later, Slater was violates the conditions of his release, according to prosecutors.
“Two days after being sentenced by Judge Martinez, on June 17, 2021, Slater began posting disturbing photos on his personal Facebook profile,” said Slater’s states agree to plead guilty. “These posts have pictures of Victim 3 tied up and lying down [sic] on railroad tracks and gravestones with Victims 1 to 3 written on [them]. ”
In response, the judge ordered the installation of surveillance software on Slater’s electronic devices. In late July, Slater was brought under control for a series of text messages he sent to his mother during his 29 hours of intoxication, the filing said.
“I want all federal agents or probation officers to see this message,” one text read. “You have completely ruined my life… Yes. I’m referring to you [Victim 1], [Victim 2], and [Victim 3]… I will kill you and your family (and if I didn’t know they existed, I would run an internet search and make sure they were dead too). “
“RETURN . . . . I will mutilate all of their pets and put them in a jar of formaldehyde and send it to [Victim 2]son of above [sic] Middle school 10th grade,” said another.
“I will massacre [Victim 2], [Victim 1], and [Victim 3], ” Read a third. “The AR-15 is not for hunting animals. It’s to hunt people. “
Last August, Slater – who had only spent a month or so as a freeman – was indicted by a federal grand jury over text messages. He was ordered detention pending trial, and spent the next 16 months in federal custody. Now that Slater has pleaded guilty, prosecutors are asking for an 18-month prison sentence.
In a letter to the court, one of Slater’s goals wrote, “What I want is for Matthew to get help. I suspect that extra time in prison will help him get on with his life.”
Family friends and colleagues described Slater in their own notes to the judge as “polite” and “polite”, if slightly “odd”.
One wrote: “I’m not sure how to describe it but his brain seems to work a little bit differently than most things. “This will be most noticeable in social situations. He usually just gives the thing, its meaning or context which is a mystery and usually takes us a while to decipher. Nothing out of the ordinary, but just the regular kind on the outside of the wall. “
A letter from a former colleague described the Seattle VA pharmacy supervisor as “unkind, malicious, and retaliatory” and who “frequently terrorized and bullied pharmacy staff.”
In a plea for clemency, Slater’s defense lawyer said his actions were largely a plea for help, stating, “It is remarkable that those who know Mr. His Facebook account was hacked when they saw the threatening posts… The posts were… Extremely unusual for him, even as depressing as he was. Many people viewing the posts were concerned, not for the safety of others but for Mr Slater’s own safety, because of his mental health issues and all that he had been through. via “.
Slater is currently in custody pending sentencing on April 1. His life will be very different after his release, according to his attorney, Jennifer E. Horwitz.
“He will no longer be a pharmacist, as the licensing attorney advised him to potentially lose his license to practice,” she said in the filing. “Instead, he’ll be looking for work where he can, potentially with minimum wage.”
Horwitz did not respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment on Wednesday.