HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Kenelm Shirk plead guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Jennifer P. Wilson for threatening to murder members of the United States Senate.
Shirk was stopped by Pa. State Police near Shippensburg on Jan. 21, 2021, while on his way to Washington D.C. During the stop, officials say police found two handguns, an AR-15 rifle, loaded magazines, and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.
United States Attorney John C. Gurganus says Shirk’s actions stemmed from retaliation for Senators who voted to certify the 2020 Presidential Election on January 6, 2021.
Shirk’s wife had contacted police saying he had threatened to kill her and that he planned to attack government officials.
On February 3, 2021, a Harrisburg federal grand jury returned an indictment charging Shirk with one count of threatening “to murder ‘Democratic United States Senators’ with the intent to impede and retaliate against them on account of the performance of their official duties,” in violation of Title 18 U.S.C. § 115 (a)(1)(B).
Shirk has been detained in federal custody since his arrest and faces a maximum penalty of 10 years of imprisonment, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a fine. He had previously pled not guilty in the case.
Shirk was a longtime Akron Borough Solicitor and a member of Shirk Law Associates in Ephrata, but has since been disbarred in Pennsylvania. Akron Borough cut ties with Shirk after more than two decades following his arrest.
According to The Associated Press, Shirk’s attorney, John Abom, said the case was “very much making a mountain out of a molehill.” Abom said Shirk had the guns because he’s a target shooter, and was headed to Virginia to visit family.
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The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Pennsylvania State Police, the Franklin County District Attorney’s Office, the Cornwall Police Department, and the Washington D.C. Capitol Police. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jaime M. Keating is prosecuting the case.