Federal and local authorities are investigating a severed gas line at the home of U.S. Rep. Tom Perriello's brother, discovered the day after Tea Party activists posted the address online so opponents could "drop by" and "express their thanks" for Perriello's vote in favor of health care reform.
The gas line connected a propane tank to a gas grill on the home's screened-in porch, according to sources in Tom Perriello's office.
The incident is being viewed as an attempted threat to a member of congress, sources said.
Two members of the conservative Tea Party groups in Danville and Lynchburg posted the home's address online Monday, mistakenly believing it belonged to the congressman. The home actually belongs to Bo Perriello, the congressman's older brother.
The local FBI field office and the Albemarle County fire marshal are investigating the incident. Police have stepped up patrols in the area as well.
Albemarle County spokeswoman Lee Catlin confirmed that county authorities are investigating an incident at Bo Perriello's home in cooperation with the FBI, but she said she cannot comment on the specifics because it is an ongoing investigation.
"The Fire Marshal's Office is conducting the investigation in cooperation with the FBI," Catlin said. "While officials are not willing to characterize the exact nature of the incident because of the ongoing investigation, it did not involve an immediate threat to occupants of the residence. Officials are taking the incident very seriously and conducting a vigorous investigation. Additional details will be released as the investigation continues."
M.A. Myers, a spokesman with the FBI's Richmond field office, confirmed that the agency is "aware" of the severing of the gas line at Bo Perriello's house.
"At this point, all I can really confirm is that we are aware of that situation," he said.
Danville Tea Party leader Nigel Coleman was one of the two activists who posted Bo Perriello's address online Monday.
"This is Rep. Thomas Stuart Price Perriello's home address," Coleman wrote Monday. "... I ain't holding back anymore!!"
According to the Politico Web site, when Coleman learned that the address actually belonged to the congressman's brother, he responded on a blog: "Do you mean I posted his brother's address on my Facebook? Oh well, collateral damage."
Coleman told The Daily Progress today that he is "shocked" and "almost speechless" at the possibility that someone would sever the propane line to Perriello's brother's house.
"I obviously condemn these actions," he said. "I would hope that people aren't thinking about doing anything crazy. We just wanted people to get close to the congressman and have their voices heard. Violence is not going to answer anything. I'm a little shocked and amazed."
Coleman added that he is not certain that the incident is related to the posting of the home's address. "Of course, we don't know this is a related event," he said.