An Owensboro minster and Webster County native who was in Washington, D.C., last week said a Facebook post of him has resulted in death threats against him and his family.
Pastor Brian Gibson, of HIS Church in Towne Square North, became the center of a social media storm when a photo of him taken with a man seen inside the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday was spread among Facebook users.
While the man in the photo was one of the men who stormed the Capitol on Wednesday, Gibson said the photo was actually taken in 2019 during a rally where Gibson spoke in Arizona.
Gibson said Friday he believes some of the threats are attempts to get him to flee Owensboro.
“It’s a hit job on me,” Gibson said during a phone interview. “People are threatening my life and my family. People from Owensboro have made death threats.
“What I have to say to them is I’m not afraid. I’m a man of God,” Gibson said. “... I want to make the statement that I’m committed to Owensboro, Kentucky. HIS Church will stay in Owensboro, Kentucky.”
Gibson was in Washington on Tuesday where he was a speaker at an event called “Prayer to Save America,” a rally for President Donald Trump held the day before Congress was scheduled to certify the electoral college votes in favor of President-Elect Joe Biden.
“On Tuesday, it was a great day,” Gibson said. “On Wednesday I went to hear the president. It was bitter, freezing cold.”
Gibson said he decided to go back to his hotel to warm up rather than to march to the Capitol as Trump exhorted the audience to do. “I got a call that something was going on at the Capitol. Somebody told me, and I couldn’t believe it, that somebody had breached the doors.”
Gibson said he walked to the Capitol but he couldn’t see what was going on near the building. “People were around the Capitol singing, ‘God Bless America’ ” and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, he said. “I didn’t know what was happening at the top.”
Gibson said he condemns “every act of violence,” and the people who broke into the building and caused damage.
Gibson estimated there were “at least 1 to 2 million people, and probably closer to 2 million” in the city for the event. “Of those ... you have 200 people who went inside the Capitol,” he said. “You can’t win like that.”
“I’m praying for the injured and the loss of life,” he said. “...We are praying for those families and that cooler minds would prevail.”
Photos taken inside the Capitol show a man in an animal skin costume with a horned hat, and his face painted red, white and blue, participating in the storming of the building. On Gibson’s Facebook page, a photo of Gibson and the man was shared, which Gibson reiterated was taken last year in Arizona.
“He looks like a character from ‘Animal Kingdom,’ ” Gibson said, adding, “I walked over and took a picture with him and posted it on Twitter and Instagram and said, ‘This guy has the best outfit today.’ ”
I saw the pictures (after Wednesday’s incident) and said, ‘Holy moly, that’s the guy from Arizona,’ ” Gibson said. With the photo being shared now, Gibson said people are attempting to “make it look like I ran wild through the chambers, bringing destruction (to) our Capitol, (which) is crazy.”
“They found all of my numbers, they posted my address and threatened my life,” Gibson said.
Gibson said he does believe there was fraud in the November election.
When asked about GOP election officials that have vouched for their states’ election results, Gibson said, “a lot of those guys hate President Trump, because they can’t control him. It’s beneficial to them to get him out of the way.”
Numerous courts have ruled against election lawsuits filed by Trump attorneys, and the states did not object to their voting results or send alternate electors to Congress to be counted Wednesday. Gibson repeated a number of claims that have been espoused by Trump and others about fraud. Trump’s claims have been repeatedly debunked.
“I absolutely 100% believe this election was stolen,” Gibson said. “They are manipulating the numbers ... I 100% believe the election was a sham and I’ve seen boatloads of evidence.”
Gibson said he does not support the storming of the Capitol, although he questioned who was responsible.
“I think they’re justified to peaceably assemble and protest,” Gibson said. “But if there were barriers set up ... they shouldn’t have crossed those barriers. I don’t know if there were or not.
“I don’t condone the violence, bloodshed or destruction of property,” he said, adding that the Capitol belongs to citizens.
“Why would you tear up your own house? It makes no sense to me,” he said.
James Mayse, 270-691-7303, email@example.com, Twitter: @JamesMayse