'Kill FBI on sight': Truth Social reveals the final days of the Cincinnati attacker

·7 min read

On Tuesday,  the account "@rickywshifferjr" posted a slew of items on Truth Social, the social media site founded by former President Donald Trump.

"Be ready to open fire tomorrow. Take your weapon to work, have it in the trunk."

"Well, I'll be dead-everyone, remember McConnell, Cheney, and Pence are the enemy."

"Kill F.B.I. on sight."

Just one day before the string of posts, FBI agents had carried out a search of Trump's Florida home at Mar-a-Lago.

Less than 48 hours after the posts, an Ohio man named Ricky Shiffer was dead.

Shiffer, 42, of Columbus, arrived at the FBI's Cincinnati field office Thursday morning, police said. He wore body armor, toted a nail gun and an AR-15 rifle, and tried to breach a secure entrance. Then he fled, with police in pursuit, and after a standoff, he was shot and killed.

Even as that police pursuit was beginning, the Ricky Shiffer account issued a new post that read like a farewell: "If you don't hear from me, it is true I tried attacking the F.B.I."

Shiffer also had been posting to Truth Social prolifically for the week before.

The person behind "@rickywshifferjr" was obsessed with a litany of far-right extremist conspiracy theories: liberals and Democrats, obsessed with pedophilia. The federal government, poised to confiscate Americans' guns.

Authorities have not publicly confirmed that Shiffer was the holder of the account, which Truth Social disabled without comment after Shiffer was killed. But the posts appear to detail the gunman's thought process.

Shiffer apparently spent nine days total on Truth Social – the last nine days of his life.

And his full posting history, according to a spreadsheet of those posts provided to USA TODAY, offers extraordinary insight into the mind of a domestic terrorist preparing for a violent clash with federal law enforcement.

More: Read the search warrant for Trump's Mar-a-Lago home

For subscribers: FBI seized top secret documents at Trump's Mar-a-Lago, but gave no clear hints on what they are

Account opened Aug. 2

The man identified by authorities as 42-year-old Ricky Walter Shiffer was a Navy veteran who had several addresses in Columbus in past years and had been a registered voter in the Columbus area as far back as 2013.

More: Who was Ricky Shiffer, the suspect in the FBI breach and standoff?

The FBI said in a statement that it had been informed of Shiffer but that "the information did not contain a specific and credible threat." Agents tried to interview Shiffer, the bureau said, but could not find him.

The Truth Social account appeared to be newly created Aug. 2, according to the spreadsheet of posts, which was provided to USA TODAY by Konrad Iturbe, a developer and researcher who scraped the information from Truth Social before it was removed by the site.

Because the Truth Social account has been disabled, Iturbe's data cannot be independently verified, but it  appears to be a complete extract of the account's interactions. "I just opened the account," reads a post from Aug. 6.

The Truth Social app.
The Truth Social app.

The person posting as Shiffer said he was no stranger to social media.

"I have had accounts blocked, locked, or deleted by ThemTube, Twitter, and, believe it or not, Rumble," he posted in his Truth Social bio.

From Aug. 2 on, Shiffer appears to have posted almost continuously on Trump's service.

The account racked up 374 individual posts and replies in that time, and his postings ran the gamut of right-wing views and extremist theories:

"They always show themselves to be the party of pedophiles these days," he wrote in response to one post about Democrats.

The posts also paint Shiffer as a self-identified Christian, given to quoting from the Old Testament and urging his followers to pray for change in American society.

But the most common theme in his postings is preparation for a coming armed confrontation with the federal government and an obsession with armed resistance as a form of noble patriotism.

The scene in Clinton County, Ohio, near where an armed man was shot and killed after police say he tried to breach the FBI's Cincinnati field office Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022.
The scene in Clinton County, Ohio, near where an armed man was shot and killed after police say he tried to breach the FBI's Cincinnati field office Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022.

Even on Aug. 7, the day before FBI agents arrived at Mar-a-Lago, Shiffer seemed ready to fight.

"Violence," the account posted, "is the only answer."

By the day after the search, the account became more explicitly militant, posting, "If you won't protect your land and family, at the point of a weapon, from this worst ever enemy, you deserve to live under an Orwellian regime."

And Shiffer began offering specific directions. First, he suggested people go to Palm Beach, the site of Mar-a-Lago. But the fight soon seemed universal:

"People, this is it. I hope a call to arms comes from someone better qualified, but if not, this is your call to arms from me. Leave work tomorrow as soon as the gun shop/Army-Navy store/pawn shop opens, get whatever you need to be ready for combat. We must not tolerate this one."

"I am proposing war," he wrote that same day. "Be ready to kill the enemy."

An armed man in body armor tried to breach a security screening area at the FBI headquarters in Cincinnati, last week, then fled and exchanged gunfire in a standoff with law enforcement, authorities said.
An armed man in body armor tried to breach a security screening area at the FBI headquarters in Cincinnati, last week, then fled and exchanged gunfire in a standoff with law enforcement, authorities said.

Extremism this week: Mar-a-Lago search; conspiracy theories; Ohio man killed

Echoes of the early 1990s

Heidi Beirich, co-founder of the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism, said the ideas expressed on the Truth Social account are concepts that were once considered fringe conspiracy theories but that have become commonplace in conservative politics.

"Trump and his acolytes have unleashed this world that we're living in now, where rhetoric that was confined to the fringes about civil war and violence has now been mainstreamed by these people," Beirich said. "And they've just made everything so much more dangerous."

Rhetoric about violence, insurrection and ever civil war has been ramping up in extremist websites, podcasts and streaming video ever since an FBI search of Trump's home and club in Florida Mar-a-Lago on Monday.

Beirich said the increased violent rhetoric, the political unease in the country, and the mainstreaming of ideas once considered militant and fringe reminds her of the early 1990s, when a wave of anti-government sentiment culminated in the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, the deadliest domestic terrorism incident in U.S. history.

"I don't think there's any question there's going to be more violence," Beirich said. "There was a lot of violence against federal government installations, besides Oklahoma City, back in the 1990s, and I have a feeling we're going to see that resurge in a big way because of all this rhetoric."

For subscribers: How a network of researchers is searching for the next hate-fueled attack

'Kill F.B.I. on sight'

Interstate 71 in Clinton County near Cincinnati was closed during Thursday's standoff.
Interstate 71 in Clinton County near Cincinnati was closed during Thursday's standoff.

The FBI search clearly spurred the owner of the @rickyshifferjr account into action.

The Shiffer account seemed laser-focused on the FBI once Trump announced his property had been searched, and on Tuesday, the day after the raid, the account posted, "Kill F.B.I on sight."

On Wednesday, Shiffer went into overdrive, making 58 posts or replies in a single day. A typical example: "I will never forget that the freedom and opportunity end if ever men fail to face their enemies in combat."

But early in the morning on Thursday, he was silent.

That morning, the Ohio State Highway Patrol would later say, Shiffer headed to the FBI field office. He had his rifle and his nail gun and his convictions.

After an alarm and response by special agents, he fled in a Ford Crown Victoria.

During those moments, the person logged into Truth Social began a sort of confession.

"Well, I thought I had a way through bullet proof glass, and I didn't. If you don't hear from me, it is true I tried attacking the F.B.I."

The post continued, but ended abruptly: "It'll mean either I was taken off the internet, the F.B.I. got me, or they sent the regular cops while"

It would be Ricky Shiffer's final comment.

Shiffer drove north on Interstate 71, beyond the shopping plazas of suburban Cincinnati and the scaffolds of the Kings Island amusement park, and deeper into the Ohio countryside.

Along the way, he exchanged gunfire with officers, said Thomas Breckle, director of the Clinton County Emergency Management Agency.

Somewhere amid the cornfields, police would later say, Shiffer left the interstate, abandoned his vehicle and continued his flight on foot, which ended in a standoff.

By 3:45 p.m., police said, Shiffer raised his gun toward the officers.

The ultimate confrontation, the one Shiffer had long been preparing for, had finally arrived.

The intersection of Smith Road and Van Tress Road in Chester Township, Ohio, near where the Ohio State Highway Patrol says a standoff took place the day before with an armed man who they say tried to breach the FBI’s Cincinnati office.
The intersection of Smith Road and Van Tress Road in Chester Township, Ohio, near where the Ohio State Highway Patrol says a standoff took place the day before with an armed man who they say tried to breach the FBI’s Cincinnati office.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Ricky Shiffer had hundreds of Truth Social posts before FBI attack