By Terri Hill | November 26, 2018
Federal prosecutors are seeking to have a Texas man with a lengthy criminal past jailed for making threats in January to shoot Pittsburgh Steelers during a playoff game in Pittsburgh when he is sentenced Tuesday.
Yuttana Choochongko, of San Antonio, faces 16 to 21 months in prison or longer according to sentencing guidelines.
In a sentencing document filed Monday, prosecutors said “Unbelievably, the defendant said he thought his threats would be looked at, ignored, and thrown away.”
In the filing, prosecutors characterize the threats as serious saying “Defendant thus deliberately threatened a large public gathering three times in two days. In doing so, he created serious concerns for the safety of the public at this gathering. If not for the FBI being able to trace the communications to him, those concerns would have persisted until the completion of the game that Sunday. The defendant made these threats at a time when the country was beset by gun violence at public events and school threats were rampant. ”
According to court documents, Choochongko sent the threatening messages from computers at a Texas clinic that conducts clinical trials for drug companies, where he was participating in a trial of an anti-depressant drug.
Choochongko pleaded guilty earlier this year to making the threats on Jan. 10 and 11 days before the Jan. 14 game between the Steelers and Jacksonville Jaguars.
In his first message he said he was going to “Try and kill as many Steelers football players and fans as possible before taking my own worthless life. So see y’all in hell.”
In the second message he threatened to “Kill Roethlisberger,” adding; “Consider me armed and dangerous for this Sunday with inside connection. I will be packing an Uzi with many clips underneath my winter gear. My target will be the whole Steelers sideline. There is only one God!! His name is Allah!!”
FBI agents were able to track the IP address used to send the messages to computers at the clinic, and surveillance video showed Choochongko on the computer at the time the messages were sent.
Lawyers for Choochongkol are seeking probation and claim that the test medication he was given affected his judgement. However, prosecutors said in the filing that Choochongkol had not received any of the medication for two days, and reported to clinic staff that he was feeling fine on the day he sent the first message.
Terri Hill can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org