Charges dropped for W.Va. man accused of threatening president

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Federal charges have been dropped against a West Virginia man accused in the spring of sending racist letters to the White House threatening to kill President Barack Obama and his family because they’re black.

A federal judge on Friday dismissed an indictment against Ryan Kirker, 21, after a handwriting analysis by the U.S. Secret Service determined he didn’t write the letters.

Federal prosecutors filed the motion to dismiss after determining that they didn’t have enough evidence to proceed, although they said the investigation is continuing.

The indictment was dismissed without prejudice, meaning it can be re-filed.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Wheeling could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Mr. Kirker’s lawyers, whose own handwriting experts reached the same conclusion as the Secret Service, did not respond to requests for comment.

A federal grand jury in Elkins had said Mr. Kirker, of McMechen, mailed a letter in April addressed to “President B. Obama” at the White House in which he said he would kill the president, his daughters and his wife. The motive, federal agents said, was that he didn’t like black people running the government.

The letter closed with “KKK forever.”

The Secret Service arrested him in May after agents compared the letter to another they believe he had written in March to a friend named “John” in which he asked John to meet him so the two could drive to Washington to shoot the president.

In that letter, the author also mentioned a specific gun, a 30.06 semi-automatic, and said he had the ability to obtain armor-piercing ammunition.

The letter also indicates that the Secret Service had visited his house the year before to investigate a third letter to the White House in which the author invited Mr. Obama to visit McMechen so he could “have ‘a shot’ at him.” The author said that if Michelle Obama comes along, she will be killed, too, because she’s black.

Based on the spelling, style and racial epithets in each letter, agents believed Mr. Kirker wrote them all.

In court filings, the government said a variety of circumstances pointed to Mr. Kirker.

For example, several of the letters make reference to drug use, and in one case the author apologizes for being “so high.” The writer also indicates he is staying with his mother and father and at the home of “McGee.” Mr. Kirker lived with is parents, and prosecutors said McGee was a misspelling of McKee, a drug associate of Mr. Kirker who was slated to be a government witness.

Prosecutors said Mr. Kirker was a heroin user enrolled in a methadone clinic and had been known to rant “openly and loudly” about political and social issues, often using racial slurs.

In addition, the FBI had received an anonymous letter in June, signed “A Patriot,” in which the writer said he had used drugs with Mr. Kirker and that Mr. Kirker told him he hated the president and could get armor-piercing ammunition from his uncle.

“He also hates blacks and Jews and was called Krazy Kid Kirker,” the letter said.

A magistrate in June ordered Mr. Kirker detained without bond pending the outcome of the case, agreeing with the government that Mr. Kirker was a threat to the community and the president.

He was released on electronic monitoring in October.

In all, he spent more than five months in the Northern Regional Jail at Moundsville, during which time his terminally ill father died.


Torsten Ove: tove@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1510.

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