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GERMANTOWN, Tenn. — A Germantown alderman says he’s afraid for his life after finding a bizarre threat left in his mailbox at City Hall.

The question now: Is it a bad prank or a real cause for concern?

Dean Massey says he found an illustration left in his mailbox that could come off as a joke. It says “some people just need a pat on the back” and shows an image of someone presumably pushing someone else off a ledge.

Massey did not take it as a joke, instead reporting to police. He says it’s politically motivated, and police say they’re investigating it as harassment.

“Every night, I worry somebody’s going to come by and try to do something to my family,” Massey said by phone Friday.

Massey says he sees this as a much deeper issue.  His political opponents are trying to silence him, since only other city staff has access to this area.

“There are city officials and employees who have interests in some of the issues citizens of Germantown have asked me to speak out against,” he said.

Some of those issues include opposition to plans to build an outdoor space at the Germantown Performing Arts Center and to a proposed cell phone tower next to Dogwood Elementary.

Massey has been at odds with the Germantown mayor, like when he sparred with Mike Palazzolo during a Board of Aldermen meeting last October.

He says the tension has now escalated. In a Facebook post on this latest incident, he says the mayor installed new locks at City Hall to keep some aldermen out, and says all city officials should get screened for drugs.

While he admits that was an exaggeration — he’s never seen city officials using drugs, he said — he still says this is a sign of the extreme discord within Gerrmantown City Hall.

Mayor Mike Palazzolo declined our request for an interview and a spokesperson told us he has no comment.