Modesto mayor speaks out after receiving death threats on Facebook

Local News

MODESTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Modesto police arrested a man Sunday for sending death threats to the city’s mayor.

Mayor Sue Zwahlen told FOX40 Tuesday that she’s still shaken up after receiving the threatening private messages on Facebook. 

“It’s been really unsettling for a few days since this message first came through, I won’t deny that. It’s been hard,” Zwahlen said. “I opened it and read it, and it mentioned something about getting a message about murdering the mayor.”

Zwahlen said she immediately took a screenshot and sent it to the city manager and the interim police chief, then went on about her day.

But hours later, a staffer who monitors her official Modesto mayor Facebook page alerted the mayor about another message that was a direct threat to her life. 

“It specifically mentioned something about wanting to kill me, and so I pulled over on the side of the road and made the decision to not go home,” Zwahlen said.

She said not long after the second message came in, Modesto police arrested 45-year-old Gopi Rajagopal at his home.

He has been charged on suspicion of making criminal threats and for threatening a public official. 

Officers did not find any weapons in his home. 

“I’ve never received a threat like this. I feel better knowing that he is in custody,” Zwahlen said. “I hope that he sincerely gets the help that he needs to move forward with his life.”

The mayor said while the death threats are disturbing, she’s moving forward with city business and will still be just as accessible to the community as she was before. 

“As a public official, I will be out and about and I will continue to do that and do business as usual so that we can make our city the best it can be,” Zwahlen said.

Additional security was already set to be in place for Tuesday night’s city council meeting due to unrelated incidents at previous council meetings. 

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