On Friday, Nov. 18, 2022, federal prosecutors announced that they'd charged Andrew M. Nyamekye, 38, of Centerville, Massachusetts, with threatening a Rhode Island official at the US Department of Veterans Affairs. Nyamkye, a US Army Ranger who fought in Afghanistan, says it's a case of overzealous federal law enforcement. Coffee or Die Magazine composite.
A US Army Ranger combat veteran is accused of threatening to murder the head of the VA benefits section in Rhode Island, but he says it’s all a case of overzealous prosecution.
Charged with threatening a federal official, Andrew Marfo Nyamekye, 38, of Centerville, Massachusetts, was released from custody on Thursday, Nov. 17, after posting a $10,000 bond.
Agents from the US Department of Veterans Affairs’ Office of the Inspector General say Nyamekye texted messages to former and current VA employees, vowing to kill E.J. McQuade, the director of the Veterans Benefits Administration’s Providence Regional Office.
Nyamekye told Coffee or Die Magazine he never thought anyone would take the messages seriously, insisting he was angry that McQuade fired him in early 2022 but he never would’ve taken any steps to harm the VA leader.
“I never intended for anyone to think I would do anything,” Nyamekye said. “I was mad about how I was treated by VA, but all of this has been a shock to me.”
US Army Rangers of the 75th Ranger Regiment conduct Task Force Training on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, on Aug. 15, 2019. Elite Rangers use this type of training to maintain a high level of mission readiness. US Army photo by Spc. Garrett Shreffler.
Saying he was rated 100% disabled for post-traumatic stress disorder and other disabilities tied to his combat service, Nyamekye explained that the Veterans Day weekend set him on edge, and messages from VA employees who didn’t seem to realize he’d been terminated appeared to be mocking him.
After serving honorably in 2nd Ranger Battalion as a mortarman and infantryman, including fighting in Afghanistan, Nyamekye got a job with the Veterans Benefits Administration in 2012. McQuade greenlighted his firing in early 2022 for what officials termed “poor performance.”
Nyamekye said VBA marked him 1% short of quality standards, but he remains proud of the work he performed at the agency for a decade.
He begged officials to let him remain at VA as a janitor, so at least he could keep providing for his family and maintain their health insurance, but he said they refused to retain him.
US Army Rangers of the 75th Ranger Regiment conduct Task Force Training on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, Aug. 14, 2019. Elite Rangers use this type of training to maintain a high level of mission readiness. US Army photo by Spc. Garrett Shreffler.
On Nov. 12, 2022, Nyamekye allegedly fired off a series of texts to a pair of current VBA employees — staffers cloaked as “MT” and “JB” in federal court records — saying, “Yea, umm FUCK this racist country” and, “Tell EJ his bitchass better not leave the house this weekend, and that’s a direct threat.”
Agents say that Nyamekye texted them later, “We will lay in the bushes waiting for the bastards to get home,” which triggered JB to ask if he was “okay.”
“Very much ok, however, you bastards will pay for your treachery as deserved. Rangers Lead the Way!” Nyamekye retorted, according to his criminal complaint.
A US Army Ranger from 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, confirms tactical information before loading into a C-130 Hercules during an exercise on the flight line Oct. 15, 2014, at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington. US Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Janelle Patiño.
On the same day, Nyamekye allegedly messaged a retired VBA employee, a staffer listed in the court records only as “RB.”
“Hope you’re ready for the civil war,” Nyamekye allegedly texted him, before bringing up McQuade.
“Tell that red head bitch he better do his best to restore the Tuskegee airmen to their rightful place or else, and that’s a direct threat. Had enough of this racist piece of dirt of a *******,” Nyamekye wrote, according to court documents.
When RB told Nyamekye he was retired, the Ranger veteran allegedly responded, “Yea well we don’t give a fuck about your retirement buddy, you bastards will still pay for what you’ve done. We will lay in the bushes waiting for the bastards to get home. And those animal noises they hear might not be animals!”
A US Army Ranger with 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, aims his rifle out of a window during Military Operations in Urban Terrain training, Marine Corps Training Area Bellows, Marine Corps Base Hawaii, June 10, 2022. US Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Brandon Aultman.
RB told investigators he believed Nyamekye was threatening to blow him up, because the former infantryman allegedly texted, “Yea It’s funny until Semtex, Tannerite and rdx are strapped to a drone with your GPS coordinates pro-grammed.”
Semtex is a plastic explosive used for both commercial and military purposes. RDX is a military high explosive. Tannerite is a binary explosive that can be purchased without a special license. But the federal court docket lists no explosives seized at Nyamekye’s home in Massachusetts.
When RB said he was going to the cops, Nyamekye allegedly warned him, “Yea we are so so scared of the corrupt racist pigs lol. We forgot all our Army Ranger training. Hope they don’t trip the booby traps and mines.”
RB, MT, and JB reached out to McQuade, who called the Providence Police Department.
A US Army Ranger with 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, aims his rifle during Military Operations in Urban Terrain training, Marine Corps Training Area Bellows, Marine Corps Base Hawaii, June 10, 2022. US Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Brandon Aultman.
Nyamekye told Coffee or Die he doesn’t remember all of that, but he never wanted anyone to take his quips literally.
He described his Thursday arrest by “a full-on SWAT team” of armed federal agents piling out of a van as “shocking,” especially because it played out in front of his wife and 2-year-old son.
“It was a big, big, big, big shock,” Nyamekye said. “I’m still in shock from it all, honestly.”
“If anyone had just asked me to come in and explain this, I would’ve told them that this is all a big misunderstanding,” Nyamekye continued. “But they didn’t do that. They just came and arrested me and took me to Rhode Island.”
He said agents confiscated all the firearms in his gun safe, plus his school laptop. He’s studying for finals for his aviation maintenance class and said he’d like to get the computer back.
US Department of Justice officials in Rhode Island didn’t return Coffee or Die’s messages seeking comment.
A US Army Ranger with 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, peeks over a stone wall during Military Operations in Urban Terrain training, Marine Corps Training Area Bellows, Marine Corps Base Hawaii, June 10, 2022. US Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Brandon Aultman.
Federal agents say that police in Centerville tried to perform a welfare check on Nyamekye on Nov. 12.
Officers reported that he assured them he was “fine” and said he’d sent the messages because he was angry about how the VA treated him and other veterans, according to a search warrant affidavit filed in his case.
According to Nyamekye ’s military records, he graduated from US Army Airborne School, the Ranger Indoctrination Program, the Emergency Medical Technician Basic Course, and Javelin Missile Training. He also attended the Defense Language Institute to learn Iraqi Arabic.
His decorations include the Combat Infantryman Badge, among other awards.
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Carl Prine is a former senior editor at Coffee or Die Magazine. He has worked at Navy Times, The San Diego Union-Tribune, and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He served in the Marine Corps and the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. His awards include the Joseph Galloway Award for Distinguished Reporting on the military, a first prize from Investigative Reporters & Editors, and the Combat Infantryman Badge.
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