Trial set for Dripping Springs man who threatened mass shooting

A Dripping Springs man indicted in March for allegedly threatening to conduct a mass shooting at Fort Hood has been found competent to stand trial, according to reports.

A July 31 trial date has now been set for Thomas Anthony Chestnut, 28, of Dripping Springs, who entered a plea of not guilty to Federal Magistrate Jeffrey Manske, according to a report from KWKT-TV in Waco.

Manske’s decision to set the trial date came after he received a 16-page report from doctors informing him Chestnut was competent to stand trial, according to the report. 

In March, a Federal grand jury in Waco indicted Chestnut on one count of interstate communications with threat to injure after he allegedly made threats to kill individuals at Fort Hood.  

If convicted, Chestnut faces up to five years in federal prison.

According to court records, on February 22, 2017, Chestnut made verbal threats when he called and spoke with a sergeant at the U.S. Army 1st Calvary Division at Fort Hood, according to a Department of Justice press release.

Chestnut allegedly threatened to go to Fort Hood, kill the sergeant, take hostages, start a mass killing spree and then kill himself if he was not allowed to speak with someone of rank.

Chestnut then spoke with a major and advised that he was a former soldier wrongly accused of a crime and eventually released from prison in 2016, according to the release.

In 2014, Chestnut was convicted of one count of sexual assault relating to an August 2012 incident at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio.

However, an appellate court overturned the verdict in December 2014 citing evidence as “factually insufficient,” according to a report in the Killeen Daily Herald.

Chestnut allegedly said if he was unable to speak with a U.S. Army III Corps Commander or a Sergeant Major regarding back pay, or did not receive the money he believed was owed to him, that he planned to shoot soldiers at Fort Hood.

“Threats of this nature are taken seriously,” said United States Attorney Richard L. Durbin, Jr. in a March statement.  

FBI agents arrested Chestnut without incident on February 24 and he has remained in federal custody since.

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