Brett Pepin’s life was threatened twice in 24 hours because of his job.
Peppin is the Boone County Health Department director of environmental health and is advising businesses and organizations on safe practices regarding the CORVID-19 pandemic.
He was surprised to receive an email Monday evening from a stranger saying in part, “I’m sitting outside your home with a rifle trained at your home … with a bullet for everyone coming in and out … and that’s a promise.”
The email indicated the sender was upset over closings caused by CORVID-19, or coronavirus, as it’s commonly called.
“It was very unnerving,” Peppin said. “I was driving home at the time, and my wife and son and niece were all at my house, and to open the email and see that was certainly a panicky moment.”
He called 911, and police rushed to Peppin’s home, but found no one threatening.
Whitestown Police and the Boone County Sheriff’s Office are investigating.
“I’m certainly glad to have the boys in blue having our backs, especially during these times,” Peppin said. “They offered me everything they could and made me feel very safe.”
Police did extra patrols in Peppin’s neighborhood throughout the night, even though the Peppin family left to stay with relatives. Peppin’s wife and son will remain with relatives for the time being, “out of an abundance of caution,” he said.
“I’m more than apt to defend my family at all costs from everything that comes through my door,” he said, “but I can’t be home at all times … I don’t want my family in the cross hairs for anything I’ve done professionally.”
The threatening email seems to have come from a hacked email account owned by someone unaware it was sent, Whitestown Police St. John Jurkash said. The sender’s address traced back to a man who lives south of Indianapolis and who is unknown to Peppin.
The sender may have been an opportunist trying to create more panic about coronavirus, Jurkash said, adding, “We may see this with more health departments across the state, I think just to incite more panic while the rest of us are already on edge.”
Peppin asked his Hoosier colleagues if they’ve been threatened and has not heard of any others, he said.
Monday was the first time anyone had threatened Peppin’s life and family, but the email wasn’t the first threat of the day.
A Lebanon Public Library patron threatened to shoot him just an hour before, according to Boone County Emergency Dispatch records.
The homeless woman was upset the library was closing at about 4 p.m., at Peppin’s urging, and told a librarian that she would shoot Peppin at work for causing the closure, according to dispatch records.
She reportedly did not have a weapon, but Lebanon Police officers spoke with her at the library, and it is unclear what occurred after that, as no women were reported arrested in Boone County Monday, and police did not immediately return phone calls seeking information Tuesday.
Peppin does not have the authority to order businesses and organizations to cease operations, but he is consulting with area organizations, based on information he receives from the Indiana State Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
He suggested the library close after President Donald Trump recommended Monday afternoon that no one gather in groups of 10 or larger.