Arizona man who claims to be Jesus Christ arrested for allegedly stalking controversial sheriff
(CNN) — A 43-year-old Arizona man who authorities say claims to be Jesus Christ has been arrested for allegedly stalking Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and writing a letter that caused a bomb scare at a Phoenix hotel.
The man, identified as Ruben Pena, 43, is accused of a class four felony hoax and a class three felony stalking count for allegedly making threats against the controversial Arizona lawman following visits to Arpaio’s downtown headquarters, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement Thursday.
Pena claimed to be “Jesus Christ” during a visit to sheriffs headquarters last week and demanded to speak with Arpaio, the statement said.
When Pena’s request was “not completed in [a] timely manner,” he allegedly left a letter saying, “Joe!! Your ass is mine Sincerely Your creator & Destroyer,” according to the sheriff’s officer statement. During previous visits, Pena had referred to Arpaio as “a piece of sh–.”
Sheriff’s deputies this week found two letters allegedly written by Pena in a bag at headquarters, the statement said. In the letters, Pena calls himself as “Jesus Christ Jr. Son of Jesus of Nazareth” and refers to a “Bag location is @ renaisance Fire/exit,” according to the statement
The letters prompted a bomb sweep of the Renaissance Hotel in Phoenix on Tuesday, police said.
On Monday, Pena allegedly made other threats against the sheriff, including “I’m gonna kill him alright… I am his creator and destroyer,” according to the statement.
It’s unclear whether Pena has an attorney.
The statement said Arpaio has received other threats in the past, including some from a Canadian man who has been arrested several times for making eight death threats against the sheriff and his family. Last year, a man named Gregory Lynn Schrader was charged in federal court in connection with the mailing of a dangerous explosive device to Arpaio.
Arpaio, also known as “Sheriff Joe,” calls himself America’s toughest sheriff. His tough, headline-grabbing punishments have earned him diehard supporters and fiery opponents.
In July, the U.S. Department of Justice settled a lawsuit against Arpaio and his department that alleged discrimination and the unlawful detention of Hispanics.
The lawsuit, which was filed in May 2013, alleged several unconstitutional behaviors by Arpaio and his staff, including the targeting of Hispanic immigrants during patrols, traffic stops and raids on businesses, detentions that violated Hispanics’ right to privacy and a failure to provide language access to Hispanic inmates who didn’t speak English.
The lawsuit also claimed that the sheriff’s office retaliated against police who were critical of Arpaio.