The younger Keiling was arrested this week and charged with threatening Donnelly and his South Bend office staff.
The criminal charge accuses him of telling a Donnelly office employee that everyone in that office had been "back-stabbing him," according to an affidavit from an FBI agent. He then continued to threaten the employee, saying, "I am going to come and back stab you. I mean literally come down and stab you," according to the charge.
Roger Keiling said he overheard his son’s side of the phone conversation with the congressman’s office, although he didn’t know who Brett was talking to at the time. The father disputes the employee’s claim that Brett threatened to stab her.
"He said, ‘Don’t stab me in the back. How would you like it if I stabbed you in the back?" the father said. Roger Keiling said he thinks the woman overreacted, and he plans to contact Donnelly to tell him so.
Roger Keiling said police are overreacting to his son’s phone call because of the Jan. 8 shooting in Arizona that injured U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 13 others, and killed six people.
"He’s never hurt anyone. He’s never threatened to hurt anyone," his father claimed.
Roger Keiling said he isn’t opposed to gun ownership, but he doesn’t keep any weapons in his home. "Guns don’t kill anyone any more than butcher knives kill. It’s people who kill," he said.
Brett harasses people and makes unwanted phone calls, but he’s not a danger, said the father, who is physically disabled and gets around inside his house using an electric cart.
Both parents said they rely on Brett to do tasks around the house and yard that they no longer can do themselves.
The elder Keiling is a minister in the Apostolic Pentecostal church and served as a pastor of a church in Mishawaka for four years. He said he also worked in the foundry at the former Dodge Manufacturing firm in Mishawaka for about 15 years.
The parents describe Brett as a gifted musician who could have had an outstanding career if not for his mental problems. "He has perfect pitch, total recall, but no common sense," Roger Keiling said.
Brett plays the violin, guitar and the keyboard. On Thursday, Brett’s violin lay atop its case in the living room. An old photo of him, violin in hand, sits nearby on top of the family’s TV.
Their son is "heartbroken because he’s not (working) in music. He’s called every religious media station in the country trying to play music for them," said his mother, Daralyn Keiling, 71.
Brett Keiling is well known to area police agencies and governmental offices. He’s had a habit for years of calling or stopping by those offices, as well as The Tribune office.
The Tribune in 2005 had police deliver to Keiling a formal notice that, because of his prior conduct, he was forbidden to enter The Tribune building. The notice stated that if he disobeys the warning, he will be subject to prosecution for trespassing.
"I’ve had numerous dealings with him," said Assistant Chief Mike Samp of the Mishawaka Police. "He’s noted in this area for calling people repeatedly and expressing his viewpoints. He’s a very disturbed person.
"Keiling always begins his phone calls with the phrase, ‘God bless you in the name of Jesus Christ,’ then rambles. Sometimes he gets angry and uses profanity against the dispatchers," Samp said.
Samp arrested Keiling in the 1990s for having sex with a 15-year-old girl, which led to a felony conviction for child molesting.
Keiling later threatened Samp and his family, the officer said. "He always remembers my name and that I was the one who wronged him," Samp said.
Keiling visited the lobby of the Mishawaka Police Station earlier this week, Samp said.
Keiling isn’t physically imposing, about 5 feet 7 inches tall and about 130 pounds, but he might be dangerous to others if he had a weapon, the officer said.