FBI is now killing all online critics of Biden,” Ali Alexander, organizer of “Stop the Steal” protests that fueled the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, announced on his Telegram account on Wednesday. “This is all by design.”

This alarming claim was prompted by the death of Craig Deleeuw Robertson, 75, in an FBI raid on his Provo, Utah residence early that morning. According to a criminal complaint from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Robertson was to be charged with interstate threats, impeding federal law enforcement officers by threat, and making threats against the president — all on the social media platforms Truth Social and Facebook. But Robertson was reportedly armed when agents showed up on his doorstep with arrest and search warrants, according to law enforcement sources who spoke to the Associated Press, and was killed by gunfire.

“The FBI is reviewing an agent-involved shooting which occurred around 6:15 a.m. on Wednesday,” the agency said in a statement shared with Rolling Stone, noting that the subject of their warrants was deceased. “In accordance with FBI policy, the shooting incident is under review by the FBI’s Inspection Division.”

In the aftermath of the raid, plenty of media attention focused on the nature of Robertson’s alleged threats, which broadly targeted Democrats and perceived enemies of Donald Trump. According to the charging documents, agents had tried to speak to him in person in March about a Truth Social post in which he related a violent fantasy about murdering New York County District Attorney Alvin Bragg — who indicted Trump in April on many counts of falsifying business records. (Truth Social itself reportedly tipped the FBI off about the post.) After rebuffing agents in that encounter, according to charging documents, Robertson allegedly posted on Facebook that they had come close to “violent eradication.” This month, upon learning that Biden was to visit Utah, Robertson allegedly stated on Facebook that he was “cleaning the dust off” of an M24 sniper rifle. Based on other social media content, including photos of his many guns, investigators believed he owned such a weapon.

However, given Robertson’s age and apparent mobility issues (neighbors say he walked with a cane and would even drive the 200-yard distance to his church), the FBI now faces serious questions about its tactical response to his online activity.

Whether he was a real threat or not, Trump supporters and other right-wingers have seized on his death to imply or claim that Robertson was executed for his political views — turning him into a martyr for free speech. “Hating Biden is enough to get you dead,” as one widely followed conservative put it on Twitter.

Far-right conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec said on his podcast that the raid “looks like a message being sent” from the government: “Threaten us, and we’ll show up at your home at 6:15 in the morning and take you out.” On Friday, he posted to Truth Social, “The Left wants what happened to Craig Robertson and Ashli Babbitt to happen to every Trump supporter,” referring to the MAGA rioter killed by a police officer during the Jan. 6 Capitol attack as she attempted to breach the barricaded Speaker’s Lobby. Fellow conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich tweeted Thursday, “This hit was executed on [Robertson] to make Americans afraid.”

Conservative radio host Glenn Beck, meanwhile, tweeted that he had “never seen the FBI gun anybody down” over threats against the president in “40+ years of broadcasting.” And Laura Loomer, an extremist banned from various platforms over the years for hate speech and misinformation, referred to the agency as a “Gestapo” in one tweet about Robertson’s death, later alleging that they murdered him “in cold blood because he criticized Joe Biden online.”

On Telegram, a channel for the QAnon-linked group “The Patriot Voice,” which has more than 50,000 subscribers, shared a link to an article about Robertson’s death. The message added scare quotes around the word “threats” when describing his social media posts. “What do you think,” the author wrote, “does the FBI have a right to KILL someone during a search warrant just because of some statement made online?” One commenter chimed in to say, “It sounds like Biden used the FBI to do his dirty work.”

Another wrote, “Let’s not forget Ruby Ridge, LaVoy Finicum, Waco, [Ashli Babbitt],” naming notorious deadly federal sieges often invoked by domestic extremists, as well as a militant killed by Oregon State Police during the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in 2016, and the insurrectionist who died at the Capitol in 2021. The latter individuals have become symbolic victims of state violence for right-wing movements. “The list continues to grow,” this commenter added, placing Robertson in the same lineage. Charlie Kirk mentioned Ruby Ridge as well in discussing Robertson on his show ThoughtCrime.

Elsewhere on social media, popular MAGA accounts also drew parallels between Babbitt’s death and Robertson’s. “You could be next, all due to your political beliefs here in America,” warned @OleMurica on Twitter, saying the “entire Deep State will stop at nothing to silence you or get rid of you if you speak out against their corruption.”

Connecting Robertson to the likes of Finicum and Babbitt is not merely symbolic. Finicum’s martyrdom became a popular folk narrative among anti-government circles, useful for radicalizing those already sympathetic to the cause. The MAGA crowd pushing false 2020 election fraud claims likewise seized upon Babbitt’s death as a recruitment tool. Now, with loved ones and acquaintances remembering Robertson as a “decent guy” and “teddy bear” in the press (someone who would “never commit any act of violence against another human being,” according to his family’s statement), Trumpworld has another posthumous hero of sorts, one who supposedly died for exercising his First Amendment rights.

That’s a grave distortion of the facts we have so far. Regardless of whether the FBI used excessive force in dealing with Robertson — a legitimate concern for which the agency must answer — it is simply inaccurate to say that his social media comments were “disagreeing with” or “critical of” Biden and other Democrats. Over and over, he publicly envisioned specific acts of deadly violence and showed off the weaponry that would potentially allow an individual to enact these fantasies.


But those facts don’t matter to the far-right spin machine, and the mythology is already working. As one apparent fan put it on Facebook: “Craig Robertson died a warrior’s death, refusing to kneel before a godless tyrant. Rest in Power, sir.”