UTAH STATE PRISON — A man who threatened on social media to shoot as many girls as he could now says that he was just feeling lonely that day.
But Christopher Wayne Cleary, 28, of Denver, said he doesn’t remember ever using the words “mass shooter.”
“I don’t remember exactly what I said. But I don’t remember saying, ‘Oh, I want to be a mass shooter. I want to be recognized as a mass shooter,’ or I guess whatever the statements were saying. I do remember saying I was suicidal and haven’t been thinking clearly and I’ve been saying a lot of off-the-wall things just because I haven’t been on my medication and I do feel alone,” Cleary said in a recording of his parole hearing from Tuesday.
In January, Cleary was arrested after posting on Facebook that was going to be “the next mass shooter” and that he was planning on “killing as many girls as I see,” according to police.
Cleary’s Facebook page stated: “All I wanted was a girlfriend. … All I wanted was to be loved, yet no one cares about me I’m 27 years old and I’ve never had a girlfriend before and I’m still a virgin, this is why I’m planning on shooting up a public place soon and being the next mass shooter cause I’m ready to die and all the girls the turned me down is going to make it right by killing as many girls as I see.”
Another post warned, “Theres nothing more dangerous than man ready to die,” according to a police affidavit.
The posts happened on the same day several women’s marches took place throughout the country.
Cleary later deleted the posts, but FBI agents in Utah and Colorado were already on to him.
He was arrested, charged and later convicted on an amended charge of attempted threat of terrorism, a third-degree felony. Cleary was sentenced in May to serve up to five years in the Utah State Prison.
On Tuesday, he went before the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole for the first time.
Cleary told parole board pro tem member Steve Roth that he remembered saying he would handcuff himself to a tree in the middle of nowhere so he could die, and he may have threatened to shoot someone, but he claimed he doesn't remember using the words “mass shooting.”
“I don’t remember saying that. Maybe I was so mad to the point that I said it and didn’t realize I said it, at least not in that way. But I don’t remember saying I’m going to be a mass shooter and I’m going to shoot up a public place,” he said. “I could’ve said it. But honestly I don’t remember saying that.”
Cleary explained that even though he was already on probation for several stalking and harassment convictions in Colorado of different women and was not allowed to travel out of state, he decided to go to Salt Lake City for a three-day trip to see a University of Utah basketball game and two Utah Jazz games. It was right after one of those Jazz games that he was arrested.
“I remember I went to a Jazz game and I felt lonely. It was weird because I’m looking at all these people and they’re all happy and everybody has their family and everybody is out on their dates with their girlfriends. And I’m like the only one there and I remember feeling sad. And I remember I left the game at halftime and I remember I was riding on the train. And I think that’s when I posted something about killing people and killing girls and I’m never going to find everybody,” he said.
When asked about his prior convictions of stalking in Colorado, Cleary admitted, “I have been having struggles with relationships and I sometimes I say things that I don’t mean. It’s something that I’ve been working on.
“I’m not proud of it and it has gotten me in a lot of trouble,” he said.
In one case, Cleary said he was rejected by a woman so he “blew up her Facebook” by constantly posting on her page and sending her private messages.
In another case, Cleary said he went to the house of a woman he had been dating and she told him to leave. But Cleary said he refused to leave because he wanted to work it out and stayed outside of her house until police were called.
Despite his numerous arrests, Cleary said he does not own any weapons and has never been violent with a woman. He talked during his parole hearing about his time in mental health court in Colorado and how he thought it was helping him.
But Cleary then admitted he stopped taking his medication for mental illness, and then got kicked out of mental health court because of a new charge. Roth questioned why he fell off the wagon if he felt he was having success in that court.
“I was heartbroken. I just wanted somebody to love me. I wanted somebody to be there for me. And I wasn’t taking my medication, I wasn’t telling them I wasn’t taking my medication because I knew the judge would have a problem with that,” an emotional Cleary responded.
The full five-member board will now vote on whether to grant parole. But Roth told Cleary he needs to seek mental health treatment while in prison, including getting back on medication.
“If you are going to have any hope of getting out you’re going to have to take some serious steps to deal with the mental health issues that you clearly have, that you admit you have,” he said.