A popular children’s book illustrator was arrested in Juneau, Alaska, on Sunday after allegedly posting anti-transgender notes threatening violence against children.
On Friday, which was Transgender Day of Visibility, the Juneau Police Department received an early morning report about a note found in a local store that “indicated a possible general threat against children," according to a statement issued by the department. Several hours later, police received a second report about a similar note found on a bulletin board in the State Office Building.
The notes depicted an assault rifle displayed over the transgender flag, along with the words: “Feeling Cute Might Shoot Some Children,” according to court documents.
The two incidents prompted authorities to notify the Juneau School District and led to an increased police presence on school campuses.
After authorities were notified Sunday morning that additional notes were found at a third business, they were able to identify the man they believed to be responsible. Police arrested Mitchell Thomas Watley Sunday evening and charged him with one count of terroristic threatening in the second degree, a class C felony.
The notes were found just days after the deadly shooting at The Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee, where a 28-year-old former student shot and killed three 9-year-olds and three adults.
Nashville officials said the suspect, who was fatally shot by police, was transgender. That information fed what one trans advocate called a "disinformation ecosystem" on extremist websites and social media, which included a baseless claim about a rise in trans and nonbinary mass shooters.
According to court documents, Watley referenced the Nashville school shooting suspect after his arrest.
“Officers spoke to Mitchell, who said (in essence) that he was in fear of the recent transgender school shooter and took it upon himself to print out and distribute these leaflets,” the criminal complaint said.
Juneau Police Department Special Operations Lieutenant Krag Campbell said in an email that there is “no more information to release” on the matter, as it is “still an ongoing investigation.”
Online court documents do not list a lawyer for Watley and show that his $10,000 bond was paid in cash by his wife. He has a preliminary hearing scheduled for April 11.
Watley is best known for his illustrations in the children’s books “I Would Tuck You In” and “You Are Home With Me,” which feature animals snuggling their children. The animals make their young feel safe and loved with affirmations like, “Wherever you may be, you will always have a home with me.”
On Wednesday, Watley was dropped from his publisher, Penguin Random House, according to The Associated Press. His author page is now empty on the publisher's website.
Penguin Random House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Some local bookstores, like Kindred Post in Juneau, have pulled Watley’s titles from their shelves.
In a Facebook message, Kindred Post's owner called the notes allegedly left by Watley “a violent threat against children and valuable members of a marginalized community.” The owner also said staffers would immediately be “removing all books illustrated by Mitchell Watley from our collection."
This article was originally published on NBCNews.com