A 60-year-old longtime felon has been charged with unleashing a string of threats this past summer to kill "all the judges, clerks and deputies" among other public employees in Hennepin County.
Peter R. Berry, of Minneapolis, was charged in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis with three counts of interstate transmission of threats in connection with telephone calls he allegedly made over several days in late June to various county offices.
Berry was also charged with two counts of possessing firearms as a felon, facing allegations that he possessed two pistols and a rifle in the months leading up to when he allegedly called in his threats.
Berry was indicted Wednesday, appeared in court and was jailed without bail because he "is a flight risk, and by clear and convincing evidence … is a danger to the community," U.S. Magistrate Judge Hildy Bowbeer wrote.
Berry's attorney, Kyle White, declined Thursday to respond to the allegations.
While the Hennepin County Government Center is accessible at the street and skyway levels without screening, there are deputies stationed there along with security personnel during business hours and at other times.
Access to the courthouse and its offices does require passing through staffed metal detectors, which were installed in 2005 after a 2003 shooting there.
Susan R. Berkovitz, 52, of St. Paul, killed her cousin, Shelley Joseph-Kordell, and wounded her cousin's attorney, Richard Hendrickson, after a long legal battle over the $170,000 estate of Berkovitz's father. Berkovitz had accused them of financial misconduct. The 70-year-old Berkovitz was convicted in 2004 and is currently serving a life sentence in the Shakopee prison.
According to the indictment against Berry:
A warrant was issued on June 24 for Berry's arrest after he failed to appear for a Hennepin County court hearing.
Berry called a Hennepin County Community Corrections employee inquiring about his court appearance and began yelling and threatening to "shoot up the place, and it will be on your hands. … What are you going to do, come down to Florida and get me?"
That same day, Berry left a voice message for a county probation officer and demanded a call back before he starts "killing everybody."
On June 25, he called a Hennepin County Service Center employee who informed him of the active arrest warrant. In response, Berry said he was going to "come down and kill everybody, all the judges, clerks and deputies."
On June 29, Berry left a voice message for a county public defender in which he expressed his dissatisfaction with the representation he received in his criminal case and threatened that people were going to die.
"You are going to be disbarred," he said. "I want accountability and transparency or people are going to die. Don't worry … I know where you live."
Berry's criminal history spans several decades and includes convictions in the metro area for burglary, drug possession, possession of burglary tools, making terroristic threats, violating restraining orders, and making harassing phone calls.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482