Hat Tip: By John Ensslin, Judy Villa, April Washington, Rocky Mountain News
AURORA — Federal authorities are downplaying a possible assassination plot against presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama.
“We’re aware of the matter discussed tonight by the Aurora Police Department,” said Colorado U.S. Attorney Troy Eid in a statement late Monday night. “Federal law enforcement is working hand-in-glove with the Aurora Police Department. Because this matter is currently under investigation, there is little we can say right now.
“We can say this: We’re absolutely confident there is no credible threat to the candidate, the Democratic National Convention, or the people of Colorado.”
At least three people had been arrested in connection with a possible plot to kill Obama at his Thursday night acceptance speech at Invesco Field at Mile High, according to CBS4 News. The suspects are being held on either drug or weapons charges.
Aurora police arrested a suspected drunken driver at 1:30 a.m. Sunday during a routine traffic stop. The man was seen “weaving,” sources said.
Aurora police seized from the suspect’s rental pickup a bullet-proof vest, two rifles, one of which was stolen and one with a hunting scope, ammunition, drugs and walkie-talkies.
Detective Marcus Dudley, a police spokesman, would not comment on reports that the men were involved in a plot to kill Obama. He told reporters gathered in a parking lot behind the police station that he could not discuss the “federal implications” of the case or whether others beside the three men had been arrested. However, he did confirm that federal authorities were involved in arresting two of the men.
“Clearly, we feel there are federal implications. Beyond that I can’t elaborate,” he said.
He said the U.S. Attorney for Colorado will hold a news conference Tuesday afternoon.
Earlier Monday, CBS4 had reported one of the suspects told authorities that they were “going to shoot Obama from a high vantage point using a … rifle … sighted at 750 yards.”
Law-enforcement sources told CBS4 that one of the suspects “was directly asked if they had come to Denver to kill Obama. He responded in the affirmative.”
A second source told CBS4 News that they are concerned they may have come upon a possible “assasination plot.”
Dudley identified the three suspects as:
* Tharin Robert Gartrell, 28, who was carrying a Colorado identification card that listed a Centennial address. Gartrell was erratically driving a rented 2008 blue Dodge Ram truck that was not registered in his name. The guns, ammo, drugs and other equipment were found in the truck.
* Nathan Johnson, 32. About three hours after Gartrell’s arrest, police from Aurora, Denver and Greenwood Village, and federal agents arrested Johnson at a hotel near Interstate 25 and Belleview Avenue. He is being held on drug charges in Denver. His bond amount was not available.
* Shawn Robert Adolf, 33. Police and federal agents arrested Adolf at the Cherry Creek Hotel at 600 South Colorado Boulevard in Glendale around 5 a.m. Sunday after he jumped from a sixth-floor window. Adolf was injured when he fell four stories onto the second-floor roof of the hotel kitchen. He then jumped again onto the ground around the hotel, where police caught him a short time later. Johnson was hospitalized with unspecified injuries from his fall. He is being held on 7 outstanding warrants with bonds totaling $1 million.
The Secret Service, ATF, FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office are investigating.