Four people have been arrested after plotting to assassinate Barack Obama.
One of the group said he was “going to shoot Obama”, who is in Denver, Colorado, for the Democratic National Convention, “from a high vantage point using a rifle sighted at 750 yards”.
Police said that one of the suspects “was directly asked if they had come to Denver to kill Obama. He responded in the affirmative”.
The shooting was planned for Thursday, when Mr Obama is set to accept the nomination as the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate for the November election at the 75,000-seat Invesco stadium.
Tharin Gartrell, 28, who was wanted on numerous warrants, was arrested on Sunday after police found two high-powered rifles, boxes of ammunition, a rifle scope, a bullet-proof vest, walkie-talkies and methamphetamine in a rented truck he was driving.
Gartrell then led police to a hotel, where a second man, Shawn Robert Adolph, 33, tried to jump out of a sixth-storey window. After landing on an awning and trying to escape with a broken ankle, Adolph, who had a handcuff ring and was wearing a swastika, according to reports, was eventually arrested.
An associate of Gartrell and Adolph, Nathan Johnson, 32, and his girlfriend, Natasha Gromek, were also arrested. Johnson is understood to have told authorities that the two men “planned to kill Barack Obama at his acceptance speech.”
It is thought the men may have ties to Sons of Silence, an outlaw biker group, with suspected connections with white supremacists. However, federal sources have said that the incident may have had more to do with drugs than with a plot to assassinate Mr Obama, despite local police claims.
The federal officials said that the verbal threats against Mr Obama were made during one of the arrests, but were not considered credible. “It could turn out that these were nothing but a bunch of knuckleheads, meth heads,” a US government source has claimed.
The US Attorney’s Office in Denver has scheduled a press conference to discuss the incident, but Attorney Troy Eid said he did not believe there was a real threat to Mr Obama.
The alleged plot was being investigated by the Secret Service, which is co-ordinating security for the Democratic Party convention, as well as the FBI and the joint terrorism task force.
Mr Obama has been under Secret Service protection for over a year after receiving credible death threats.
By Jon Swaine
Last Updated: 11:54AM BST 26 Aug 2008