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Man with 'Death to Obama' signs detained at HCC forum

August 13, 2009|By ERIN JULIUS

o If you want to voice your opinion on health care reform efforts and Wednesday's town hall event, go to the Local Shoutbox page.

o Emotions run high at Cardin health care forum at HCC

o More left out of forum than let in

HAGERSTOWN -- The United States Secret Service on Wednesday interviewed a man who stood near the entrance of Hagerstown Community College holding signs that threatened President Obama's life.

U.S. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin held a town hall meeting on health care reform from 1 to about 2:15 p.m. Wednesday at HCC. Someone called in to report the signs between noon and 1 p.m., Capt. Pete Lazich of the Washington County Sheriff's Department said Thursday morning.

The unidentified man was holding one sign that said "Death to Obama" and another that said "Death to Obama, Michelle and his two stupid kids," Lazich said.

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Lazich did not see the signs, but a Secret Service special agent confirmed the wording was that, or similar.

The first name of President Obama's wife is Michelle. He has two school-age daughters.

Deputies detained the man and Secret Service agents interviewed him, Lazich said.

Barbara Golden, special agent in charge of the Secret Service office in Baltimore, confirmed an agent from that office was in Washington County to interview the man Wednesday.

The Secret Service did not take the man into custody, Golden said.

"We are aware of the incident and appropriate investigation, and follow-up will be conducted," she said.

Golden referred other questions to the Secret Service's public affairs office.

"If we feel that someone is dangerous or could become dangerous towards a protectee of the Secret Service, then we are going to investigate that incident to the fullest," said Darrin Blackford, special agent spokesman for the Secret Service's public affairs office.

Possible threats could be a letter or statement indicating someone wants to do harm to someone protected by the Secret Service, he said.

About 440 people attended the town hall meeting at HCC's Kepler Theater, which was filled to capacity. Several hundred more were left outside after seats were filled.

Those left outside continued to debate, chant and grant interviews to the media. They filled the lawn outside the theater, which is in the middle of the school's campus.

The man interviewed by the Secret Service was not among that crowd. He was at the campus entrance off Robinwood Drive.

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