Fresno police arrest suspect in threat to Tower nightclub, seize guns and ammo

Fresno police on Monday announced the arrest of a Selma-area man in connection to terrorist threats made to an LGBTQ-friendly Tower district bar.

Booked on charges of making the threats was Jose Lechuga, 28. Officers also seized several handguns and long guns along with hundreds of rounds of ammunition after an investigation of the threats made on Facebook.

The threats, posted under the profile of “MAGA shooter,” warned the FAB Fresno nightclub to change its name to Pulse, an Orlando nightclub where 49 were killed and 53 injured in 2016. Police are following more leads to determine if hate crime charges will also be sought.

“Since you will share the same fate,” the threat warned.

Lechuga made the threats because he was angry about a video posted on Facebook featuring the mother of his girlfriend, Chief Jerry Dyer said.

A woman who appears intoxicated is the subject of that video as she is shown insulting the club and its patrons. Comments on the video, in turn, insult the woman.

The chief said police received calls from the nightclub shortly after the threatening message appeared on Facebook and immediately put a team on detectives on the case to determine the identity of “MAGA shooter.”

The Federal Bureau of Investigation was called in, and officers asked Facebook for help identifying the author of the threats. Officers were able to obtain an Internet address and an email account associated with Lechuga and arrested him Friday as he was leaving a Fowler address.

Ammunition seized from Jose Isabel Lechuga, arrested after threats against FAB nightclub, shown at a press conference Monday, June 17, 2019 in Fresno. ERIC PAUL ZAMORA

He was taken into custody and officers seized a semi-automatic handgun in the vehicle. Police then checked Lechuga’s home in the 13800 block of South Highland Avenue in Selma and recovered the other weapons and ammunition.

Dyer said Lechuga told detectives he had no intention of carrying out the threats, which he made in response to comments made on Facebook about his girlfriend and her mother.

“We don’t have a crystal ball to determine whether threats will be carried out,” Dyer said. But the chief added it was apparent that Lechuga had made the threats and he had the means to carry them out. He said officers spent “hundreds” of hours on the case.

Dyer said Lechuga legally owned the weapons found in his car and home.

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A native of Colorado, Jim Guy studied political science, Latin American politics and Spanish literature at Fresno State University, and advanced Spanish grammar in Cuernavaca, Mexico.