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Secret Service says number of threats against president ‘overwhelming’

The U.S. Secret Service field office in Seattle responds to threats against the President of the United States daily. They call the sheer number "overwhelming."

When a Federal Way man accused of threatening to kill President Barack Obama makes a scheduled appearance in court Monday, the Secret Service in Seattle will likely be busy responding to new threats against POTUS, and others under their protection.

According to the U.S. Secret Service field office in Seattle, agents here respond to multiple threats each day.

“Our goal and our mandate is to immediately respond to any direct threat against the president, the first family, any other Secret Service protectees such as the vice president, or visiting heads of state,” said Bob Kierstead, assistant special agent in charge of the Seattle field office.

Agents are then responsible for determining the credibility of the threat.

“We consult with our Protective Intelligence Division in Washington, D.C. to decide how far an investigation is going to go,” Kierstead said. “If a federal arrest does take place, that’s going to be the most serious or extreme of the end results.”

When Anton Caluori, 31, allegedly emailed the FBI on the morning of August 21 to say he would “kill the president,” a Secret Service agent was immediately dispatched to his residence. According to the Department of Justice, Caluori was armed with multiple weapons, making his threat not only credible, but viable.

“This case had all the troubling ingredients: threats of violence and explosive devices, multiple weapons with hundreds of rounds and even brandishing of a weapon at law enforcement,” said U. S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan.

Caluori was subsequently arrested and charged in federal court with making a threat against the president and assault of a federal agent. If convicted, he could face up to 25 years in prison.

He is scheduled to appear in federal court in Seattle Monday for a detention hearing.

“Recent national events are a stark reminder that we must take these threats of death or violence seriously,” Durkan said.

While the Secret Service says they take every threat against the president seriously, not all will end in arrest.

“Threats will come our way from high school students, even junior high school students. Just prank type calls,” Kierstead said. “So, we’re not out there to arrest everybody that makes a threat, but we are always concerned.”

Kierstead said many of those who make such threats are mentally ill, and it is the goal of the Secret Service to find them help. It can be “sobering,” he said, when agents show up at their door.

“It can be upsetting, but any type of threat against the president is a violation of federal law,” he said.

According to the Secret Service, the president is the most threatened person in the U.S., regardless of political party. He is not made aware of all threats against him, however, because Kierstead said the “sheer number would be overwhelming and, frankly, distracting.”

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