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Rochester man facing federal charge, accused of threatening Islamic Center of Rochester

 Federal building in Rochester, NY
United States Bankruptcy Court - Western District
Federal building in Rochester, NY

The U.S. Attorney’s office says that a Rochester man faces a federal charge for allegedly threatening a board member of the Rochester Islamic Center.

According to the federal complaint, a voicemail was received recently by that board member which stated the person was “coming to your office with a few friends, we all have shotguns.” And the message, according to prosecutors, also claimed the caller and others would “shoot everybody that’s on the phone in the (expletive) head.”

Authorities say they traced that message to 53-year-old William M. Putnam, who has 12 previous criminal convictions.

The federal complaint says that the Islamic Center board member recognized a photo of Putnam as someone who had previously visited the Islamic Center and who the board member had interacted with on multiple occasions.

Officials say as a result, Putnam had been taken into custody under the state’s mental hygiene and was taken to the hospital for observation.

Now, Putnam is facing a federal charge of transmitting in interstate commerce, communications containing threats to injure another person.

Brighton Police also say that Putnam has been charged with Aggravated Harassment in the 2nd degree as a Hate Crime and Making a Terrorist Threat which are both felonies.

Putnam was ordered held in county jail pending further court proceedings.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.