Prior threat revealed


A native New Yorker arrested in connection with a threat on May 27 to kill President Barack Obama made a similar threat a week earlier when he visited his father's former workplace, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

Daniel James Murray, 36, appeared in federal court Monday and invoked his Sixth Amendment right to a speedy and public trial. U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Johnston ordered Murray detained after the prosecutor rattled off a litany of unsettling incidents involving Murray.

Murray was captured Friday night in the parking lot of a Laughlin casino. Secret Service agents had sought Murray since he told a Utah bank teller, "We are on a mission to kill the president of the United States," according to a criminal complaint.

On May 22, Murray is alleged to have visited the Los Angeles Fire Department, where his father was once employed, placed two hollow-point bullets and a religious compact disc on the secretary's desk and said he was going to go see the president, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Amber Craig.

Obama was in Las Vegas on May 26 and May 27, but there is no indication that Murray also was in town.

Craig said Murray's parents, who reside in New York, told federal officials their son had severe mental issues. She said he has been committed to and released from mental health facilities at least eight times in the past decade. Diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, he has refused medical treatment.

Murray quietly responded "yes, your honor" to most of Johnston's questions. He is expected to be extradited to Utah, where the charges originate, and enter a plea later this month.

During May visits to Zions First National Bank in St. George, Utah, Murray expressed frustration with the economy and placed blame on Obama, the complaint says.

"With all this mess going on under President Obama with banks and the economy, I'm sure if citizens happen to lose their money, they will rise up, and we could see killing and deaths," Murray told a teller before opening an account and depositing a $85,000 check on May 19.

Eight days later, Murray is alleged to have returned and to have withdrawn $12,698. He grew aggravated with the teller when he failed to produce the proper identification.

Murray said, "Not to be disrespectful, but if I don't get this money, someone is going to die," according to the complaint.

He directed the teller to hand him bills no smaller than $50 in nonsequential order. As the teller counted the bills, Murray rambled on: "We are 94 million miles from the sun, and are in between the sun and moon, and the eagle that flies between them, and it's a giant step for mankind," the complaint said.

"I have traveled thousands of miles to be here and know things that are going to happen ... the banking system will fail and people will die ... there will be chaos in the world," Murray continued, according to statements from the teller. He then mentioned his mission to kill Obama.

Craig said Murray told bank officials he was a "messenger." When pressed about what type of messenger, he is alleged to have replied, "A messenger of God," Craig said.

Murray returned to the bank the next day and withdrew his remaining $72,000 and closed the account.

Craig said Murray was carrying about $100,000 he received in equity from the sale of his home.

The complaint says eight weapons, including semiautomatic pistols and revolvers, are registered to Murray, but on Monday he told his attorney that he hasn't owned a weapon since 2000.

Bank officials noted the car Murray was driving, a blue 2001 Buick LeSabre with New York plates. According to the complaint, Murray had been traveling between California, Utah, Georgia, Oklahoma and Texas.

In arguing for Murray's release, federal Public Defender Brenda Weksler said Murray has never harmed anyone.

"All we're hearing is all bark and no bite," she said.

But Craig said Murray's parents said their son should be considered a flight risk. They also said his behavior has become "increasingly aggressive and violent," Craig told the magistrate judge.

"We're hoping that he gets the appropriate treatment," Murray's father, Michael Murray, told The Associated Press. "He doesn't accept the fact that he's mentally ill."

In 2002, Murray threatened to blow up a New York supermarket and was placed on probation.

In 2008, he told mental health staff, "I am trained to kill police officers," Craig said. Earlier this year, Murray threatened his father with a knife. In January, he shattered the windshield of his mother's car, prompting her to take out a restraining order against her son.

Johnston ordered Murray detained, saying his "mental status appears to be severely compromised." Johnston agreed to appoint Murray a federal public defender but ordered him to cover the costs, which amount to $2,000 a month.

Contact reporter Adrienne Packer at apacker@reviewjournal.com or 702-384-8710.

 

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