Utah Sen. Mike Lee has questions about the FBI raid in Provo that killed Craig Robertson earlier this month, calling certain actions the bureau took “highly unusual” and telling constituents it “warrants serious investigation.”
The Utah Republican fielded about an hour of questions during a town hall event in Lehi Wednesday — the very last question came from a woman asking for his thoughts on the raid.
Lee, in response, said it appeared the FBI used more force than usual, and questioned why the raid was carried out so early in the morning, why Robertson’s body was reportedly left on the sidewalk for hours after the shooting, and whether agents tried to deescalate the situation before using force.
Robertson, 75, was shot dead in his home in Provo by FBI agents who were attempting to arrest him related to months of violent threats posted on his social media toward President Joe Biden and other top Democrats. Biden was scheduled to land in Utah hours later.
In a statement, the FBI says Robertson was pointing a .357 revolver at agents as they entered his home at about 6:15 a.m. The bureau’s inspection division is investigating the shooting.
Lee, thanking the constituent for asking the question, told the audience that “anytime someone dies at the hands of government officials, law enforcement or otherwise, it’s of concern and it warrants serious investigation.”
“I don’t think any of us can claim to know enough facts about that investigation, about what happened there, to know. An investigation will have to happen,” he said. “I haven’t commented on that, one because I know relatively little about it. All I know about it is what you know based on what we’ve been able to read from public reports.”
Lee went on to say there were things about the raid that seemed unusual.
“Apparently there was a flash grenade that was deployed outside the residence. It was executed early in the morning. It seemed like more force than what was usual. But again, I don’t know what was in their case file, I don’t know what reason they may have had that the person would prove to be a threat to them,” Lee said.
Lee said many law enforcement officers are trained to deescalate tense situations, and questioned whether they took steps to “try to avoid the conflict.”
According to neighbors who spoke to the Deseret News after the shooting, Robertson was carried outside and placed on the sidewalk following the shooting, where first responders attempted lifesaving measures and then put a white sheet over his body. Witnesses say his body stayed there for roughly two hours.
Lee said that was concerning.
“It seems highly unusual that they, having killed him, left him laying apparently outside for several hours. That’s weird,” the senator said Wednesday.
Lee then reiterated that he knows nothing more about Robertson than what’s been publicly reported.
“But obviously it’s of deep concern any time law enforcement acts in a way that results in the taking of a human life. People have got to be held accountable and we shouldn't expect anything less,” he told the audience.
As he closed out the town hall, Lee expanded on what he called the importance of local law enforcement, saying it was “yet another reason to honor federalism.”
“We need some federal law enforcement, but there are some real advantages that happen when we have local law enforcement doing the bulk of it because local law enforcement tend to know much more about the neighborhood in question, and the individual in question, when they go to execute a warrant,” Lee said.
A federal complaint filed the day before Robertson was killed charged him with making interstate threats, making threats against federal law enforcement and making threats against the president.
On his now deactivated Facebook page, Robertson asked whether Utah would become famous “as the place a sniper took out Biden the Marxist” and urged residents to fire their guns into the air when Air Force One arrived.
Robertson also threatened other high-profile Democrats — he posted about “patriotic dreams” of standing over the body of California Gov. Gavin Newsom “with a wound above his brow and my S&W M&P 9mm still smoking.” Other posts threatened U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, Vice President Kamala Harris and New York Attorney General Letitia James.
Provo Police officers responded to Robertson’s home in 2018 after two Google Fiber workers claimed he pointed a gun at them while they worked on his property. When an officer arrived, Robertson answered the door holding an AR-15 rifle. He was never charged.