Yamiche Alcindor, USA Today
A man with a loaded rifle, a machete and gasoline was arrestedFriday after threatening to kill former President George W. Bush andexpressing interest in a relationship with his daughter, according tomultiple media reports.
Benjamin Smith, 44, was arrested bythe U.S. Secret Service in New York City after telling agents he wasdivorced and "working on a relationship with Barbara Bush." Reuters,quoting from a criminal complaint filed in federal court, reported Smithscreamed "Bush will get his" as he was taken into custody. BarbaraPierce Bush, 32, is the elder of the 43rd president's twin girls.
GeorgeOgilvie, a spokesman for the U.S. Secret Service, told USA TODAY thatSmith was arrested under U.S. Code Title 18 Section 879, which prohibitsthreats against a former president. Ogilvie would not go into detailabout the incident.
At a preliminary hearing, Assistant U.S.Attorney Andrea Griswold told U.S. Magistrate Judge Henry Pitman thegovernment believes Smith was referring to the former president's oldestdaughter and not Bush's mother, who shares the same name, Reutersreported.
Smith was found with a loaded Rossi .38-caliber rifle, investigatorssaid after agents had been looking for him for more than 12 hours,according to The New York Daily News.
According toReuters, Smith's mother called police Thursday after she found a note inthe Pittsford, N.Y., home she shares with her son.
"I'm going to work for George W. Bush and the Pentagon," the note said. "I have to slay a dragon and then Barbara Bush is mine."
UsingSmith's cell phone, the Secret Service tracked him down in Manhattan onFriday morning and found him sitting in his car with the weapons. The New York Daily News reports Smith laughed during his arraignment every time Griswald repeated the "slay the dragon" line from his letter.
Reuters reported Smith's attorney, Peggy Cross-Goldenberg, said the note and her client's screams are not a "true threat."
Pitmansaid it was "unclear" a jury would find Smith guilty though she notedthat Barbara Bush lives in New York City, the reports said.
"Admittedly,there is some inconsistency in the notion that the way to win BarbaraBush's affections is to kill her father," Pitman said.
A Bush spokesman told The New York Daily News the former president was not aware of Smith or his alleged threats.