A Wichita musician was arrested on Friday for allegedly planning to kidnap and kill the city’s mayor.
The Wichita Police Department confirmed it had arrested 59-year-old Meredith Dowty. Dowty is a retired Wichita City firefighter who allegedly threatened the mayor, Brandon Whipple. Dowty said he was motivated by his opposition to “masks and tyranny.” He is facing a charge of criminal threat.
Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple learned of the threats from another city official. Dowty was asking for the mayor’s address, and another text message contained a detailed threat against Whipple’s life.
“He said he was going to kidnap me and slash my throat, and he needed my address because I needed to see the hangman – me and everyone who, something about tyranny,” Whipple told the Wichita Eagle. “It sounded like the person was very upset about pretty much mask mandates, and he said something about not being able to see his mother because of COVID restrictions on elderly homes.”
Besides serving as a firefighter, Dowty is also a well-known bar and dive musician in Wichita. “Meredith Dowty, aka Cathead, will be performing this brisk evening starting at 8. Cathead does some originals as well as covers. Don’t be afraid to venture out tonight, just don’t be late,” a Facebook post of his act advertises.
Dowty has consistently played guitar and harmonica at bars and nightclubs under the stage name, “Cathead.” In 2008, he was honored by the Wichita City Council for saving a police officer’s life after he was shot. Dowty’s threats are an escalation of Wichita’s situation – where mask mandates have been in place since July.
Last month, 120 people took over a city council meeting in Wichita to protest. They spoke for nearly seven hours in opposition to the mask mandate. Dowty issuing a threat against a city official took the issue beyond civil discourse.
“This wasn’t just some guy popping off on social media,” the mayor says. “He contacted someone that knows where I live that he thought would give him my address.” Dowty’s arrest in Wichita comes just days after the FBI foiled a plot to kidnap and kill Michigan state governor Gretchen Whitmer.
In that situation, the group planned extensively and made several surveillance trips to Whitmer’s vacation home. The group also discussed how to hinder a police response by blowing up a bridge. The group performed several training exercises and recorded them, with the videos surfacing online.