A 60-year-old Lincoln man facing a federal charge for sending emails threatening to kidnap and injure a Veterans Affairs clinic employee will get a mental health evaluation.

Joseph Higgins had objected to the move at his arraignment in U.S. District Court last week.

In the end, Judge Richard G. Kopf detained Higgins and found probable cause to believe he should be evaluated at a federal medical center to determine if he's competent.

In the criminal complaint filed May 16, Michael McCary, a VA police officer, said Higgins had expressed a fixation on a VA employee and a belief that he is directed by God to choose who lives and dies.

McCary said because of Higgins' "abundant amount of daily emails naming specific targets, intimidating individuals and causing fear to staff members," some employees have gotten protection orders barring him from contacting them.

On May 15, a Lancaster County Sheriff's deputy arrested him for allegedly violating a protection order.

McCary said Higgins communicated threats to a county judge and judicial staff by email, allegedly describing the VA hospital as a "target" of his project and saying he was going to take a specific VA employee to the kingdom with him.

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Lori Pilger is a public safety reporter.

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