A man who was arrested under charges of kidnapping and breaking into the Colorado ranch owned by businessman Michael Bloomberg had said he was looking for the billionaire’s daughters, prosecutors say.
Joseph Beecher, 48, who is being held in jail in Cheyenne, allegedly abducted a housekeeper from the property at gunpoint.
But according to court documents quoted by the Associated Press, after arriving at the property he first asked about the billionaire’s daughters and said he wanted to “make an international scene”.
Mr Bloomberg, former New York City mayor and a Democratic presidential candidate, has two daughters, Georgina and Emma, aged 39 and 42 respectively.
The Bloomberg family was not at the ranch near rural Meeker, in the western part of Colorado, when police say a man rammed a pickup truck through its gates and kidnapped a female staff member at gunpoint on Wednesday.
The man then forced the victim to drive him in her truck to the Denver area and north to Wyoming, authorities said.
Mr Beecher was arrested on Thursday with an AR-15 and a handgun in Cheyenne, Wyoming after investigators were able to trace the woman’s iPad to a motel there, an arrest affidavit said.
Prosecutors said the woman was not harmed, but also alleged that Mr Beecher kissed her on the forehead and told her she would be dead if she were a man.
The woman, whose name has not been revealed in the court documents, said Mr Beecher told her he had gone to the Meeker airport in July looking for Mr Bloomberg. She also said he referred to Bloomberg’s daughters by name when he asked about their whereabouts.
The sheriff’s office in Rio Blanco County, where the ranch is located, said in a statement that Mr Beecher had no connection to the Bloombergs or the alleged victim. It said his motive for going to the ranch, which was purchased in April 2020 for $44.8m (£32m), was being investigated.
The accused lives in Craig city of Colorado, about 70 miles from the Bloomberg ranch, and had worked as a handyman at an apartment complex, according to the affidavit. He received housing in exchange for his work but was told he was being terminated on Tuesday and would have to leave, it said.
No charges had been filed against him yet in Wyoming, according to court records, and it was not known if he had a lawyer who could comment on his behalf.
Mr Bloomberg’s spokesperson, Ty Trippet, expressed gratitude to law enforcement for their work.
“We’re deeply grateful to the Rio Blanco County Sheriff’s office, the Colorado bureau of investigation, Wyoming law enforcement, the FBI and other individuals for their swift and heroic action in this case in ensuring that no lives were lost and that the victim has been rescued and safely returned to her family,” he said in a statement.
Additional reporting by agencies