WILMINGTON, Ohio -- Authorities are investigating the motives of an armed man who tried to breach the FBI’s Cincinnati office and was killed in a shootout — a burst of violence that unfolded amid FBI warnings that federal agents could face attacks in the wake of the search at Donald Trump’s home.
Federal authorities are looking into whether the gunman, 42-year-old Ricky Shiffer, had ties to far-right extremist groups such as the Proud Boys, according to a law enforcement official briefed on the matter.
Shiffer is believed to have been in Washington in the days leading up to the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection and may have been at the Capitol that day, according to the official, who was not allowed to discuss the investigation publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Shiffer was not charged with any crimes in connection with the Jan. 6 attack, the official said.
Officials have warned of a rise in threats against federal agents since the FBI search Monday at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. Supporters of the former president have railed against the search, accusing the FBI and the Justice Department of using the legal system as a political weapon.
In the Cincinnati case, officials said Shiffer tried to breach the visitor screening area at the FBI office Thursday and fled when agents confronted him. He was later spotted by a state trooper along Interstate 71 and fired shots as the officer chased him, said Lt. Nathan Dennis, an Ohio State Highway Patrol spokesperson.
Shiffer eventually got out of his car on a rural road and exchanged fire with police and was wounded, Dennis said. Authorities tried to negotiate with him, but he was shot and killed after raising a gun toward officers, Dennis said.
Shiffer was a registered Republican who voted in the 2020 primary from Columbus, Ohio, and in the 2020 general election from Tulsa, Oklahoma, according to public records.
Court records show the Ohio Department of Taxation filed suit against him in June, seeking a $553 tax lien judgment, according to court records listing him at an address in St. Petersburg, Florida. He also previously lived at several addresses in Columbus.
Since the search at Mar-a-Lago, users of Gab, a social media site popular with white supremacists and antisemites, have warned they are preparing for armed revolution. Federal officials have also been tracking threats of violence against federal agents on Gab and other sites.
FBI Director Christopher Wray denounced the threats as he visited another FBI office in Omaha, Nebraska, on Wednesday.
“Violence against law enforcement is not the answer, no matter who you’re upset with,” he said.
The FBI on Wednesday also warned its agents to avoid protesters and ensure their security key cards are “not visible outside FBI space,” citing an increase in social media threats against bureau personnel and offices.
Welsh-Huggins reported from Columbus, Ohio. Associated Press writers Samantha Hendrickson and Julie Carr Smyth in Columbus, Michael Balsamo in Washington and Jim Mustian in New York contributed to this report.