Man arrested over Obama threats

Published 6:00 am Friday, January 16, 2009

A Wisconsin man was was arrested this morning in Lincoln Countyfor threatening to kill President-elect Barack Obama.

Lincoln County Sheriff Steve Rushing said he accompanied SecretService agents Friday at 11:30 a.m. to arrest Steven JosephChristopher, 43, at a residence at 2033 California Road. Rushingsaid Christopher is originally from Wisconsin, and has been livingin Lincoln County for “a few months.”

Christopher appeared in the U.S. Southern District Court inJackson Friday afternoon.

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Secret Service agents tracked him down after he publiclythreatened to assassinate Obama on the Web, creating a thread entitled, “ok we have 9 daysuntil my Presidential Assasination.”

In the online post, he referred to Obama as a “sacrificiallamb,” saying “I know it’s for the country’s own good that I dothis.” The post was riddled with expletives and anti-Semitism.

In another posting on the same thread, Christopher also madereference to possible threats against outgoing President George W.Bush previously, saying, “let’s hope this time they don’t hang upon, like last time when I threatened to kill gw and called them totell.” It was not clear if, indeed, “gw” referred to Bush.

In another posting, Christopher stated he was “stuck here inMississippi” and asked the Web site’s readers for help in travelingto Washington, D.C. and finding a firearm.

Rushing said Christopher was arrested without incident. He isbeing held in the Madison County Jail until a bail hearingThursday.

Christopher will reappear in court next week.

John Dowdy, Chief of Criminal Division for the Office of theU.S. Attorney, said Christopher was staying with Lincoln County’sLena Lock at a residence on California Road. He also traveled backand forth to 1939 California Road – the residence of Lock’s aunt,Etta Berry.

Dowdy said Christopher’s connection to Lock and Berry is not amatter of public record.

Dowdy said Christopher is charged with violating Title 18,United States Code, Section 871 – threatening to kill thePresident-Elect of the United States – which carries a maximumpenalty of up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Federal agents were alerted to Christopher’s threats after theAlien-Earth Web site administrator notified them of the posting,Dowdy said.

He said Christopher posted his first threat against Obama onJan. 11 and threatened an assassination again on Jan. 14.Authorities tracked Christopher’s Internet Protocol address – anumerical identification for Internet users – to Lock’s home inLincoln County.

“Once we determined the IP address came back to user Lena Lockin Brookhaven, it kind of focused our investigation down into thatarea,” Dowdy said. “We’ve been actively pursuing this since theafternoon of the 14th when we were put on notice.”

Dowdy said agents identified the residence Thursday, waiting forthe confirmation of computer forensics tests before an arrest wasmade.