Army Veteran Arrested After Threatening to Kill Soldiers at Fort Irwin in California

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National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California
Aerial view of the National Training Center (NTC) at Fort Irwin, California, July 18, 2020. (Minnesota National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Ben Houtkooper)

A former soldier has been arrested in California after he threatened to kill soldiers and law enforcement officials at Fort Irwin, located in San Bernardino County, according to federal authorities.

"Christian Ernest Beyer, 41, of Petaluma, has been charged with interstate threats, a crime that carries a statutory maximum sentence of five years in federal prison," a Justice Department press release announced Thursday.

Although Beyer appears to have a history of violent behavior going back several years, it was a series of YouTube videos, posted on Oct. 30 in which the former soldier threatened the commanding general of the base, the chief of police for the post, and a senior enlisted soldier, that resulted in federal charges.

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According to records provided to Military.com by the Army, Beyer joined the service in August 2000 and served as an armor crewman for nearly 23 years, leaving in March 2023 as a sergeant first class. In that time, he deployed to Iraq three times, including during the opening days of Operation Iraqi Freedom in April 2003. He also deployed to Kuwait twice.

The Army offered no other details about his service, including awards or the nature of his discharge, but service court records show he faced court-martial in 2022 that, among other punishments, demoted him to sergeant first class from master sergeant.

The federal indictment says that in April 2021 Beyer was arrested by Army officials for assaulting his wife at Fort Irwin. His Facebook profile, which is also cited by prosecutors, has posts of police records from other incidents involving his behavior in late 2021 that alleged he was heavily intoxicated and belligerent.

In the videos Beyer made Monday, he threatens to shoot his way onto Fort Irwin and kill specific people unless they resign their positions.

"You have like two days or I'm coming myself, and you know I can f---ing get there," Beyer said in a video. "I will come there with guns."

The indictment said Army officials were aware that Beyer knew "how to access the Fort Irwin installation through unofficial trails and/or means and ... how to circumvent official entry/access points."

Military.com reached out to a lawyer listed in court records as representing Beyer but did not hear back in time for publication.

"I'm calling out the people that forced me out," Beyer says in a video cited in the indictment before naming four specific soldiers. "Go ahead and f---ing hang it up or you're harboring those police like you've already done before and I will f---ing come and hunt you," he adds.

Beyer's account is still active at the time of publication, and there are 11 videos -- including one of the two cited in the indictment. Military.com was able to review both before one was removed.

However, most of Beyer's threats and vitriol were directed at the base police officers and, specifically, the chief of police.

"Go kill them. All of them. It's fine. Don't worry about it. And if one of you wants to do it, go for it, dude. Die a f---ing hero," Beyer said, referring to the police officers at Fort Irwin.

The court documents and Beyer's own Facebook posts suggest that he was a soldier who spent his last years in the military struggling with alcohol and becoming increasingly violent.

The indictment cites a July 2021 memo, written by Brig. Gen. Curtis Taylor -- Fort Irwin's commander who still holds the post today -- that described the circumstances around Beyer's arrest in the spring of 2021.

"I am deeply concerned regarding your actions on 26 April 2021. On that date, you pushed your wife, barricaded yourself inside your residence with an unregistered firearm, and disobeyed lawful orders," Taylor wrote, according to the federal indictment.

"Furthermore, you showed a lack of respect and decorum to military police upon your apprehension when you spit chewing tobacco on the floor of the patrol car and urinated in the police interview room," Taylor added.

One of Beyer's videos referenced Taylor amid his other threats.

Army court records show that Beyer -- then a master sergeant -- was found guilty of four violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, including assault with the intent to inflict bodily harm and domestic assault, in August 2022.

"The military judge sentenced the accused to be confined for 45 days, forfeiture of $250 per month for 4 months, and reduction to E-7," the records say.

Federal prosecutors also noted in the indictment that he used his Facebook profile to make threats against the California Highway Patrol.

Beyer was arrested Oct. 28 in Mendocino County on charges of disorderly conduct while under the influence but released the next day. Then, the following day -- the same day that Beyer made the threatening YouTube videos -- he "was involved in an altercation with a group of elderly individuals after [he] left his car in a neighborhood where he did not live."

The former soldier brandished a knife before getting in his vehicle and driving at the group. Police later caught up with him, but he fled on foot, the indictment says.

Court records aren't clear as to when he was arrested on federal charges, but they do note that he appeared before a judge on Thursday and was jailed.

-- Konstantin Toropin can be reached at konstantin.toropin@military.com. Follow him on X at @ktoropin.

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