CLE man charged for making threats against Obama

Posted at 4:07 PM, Mar 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-02 23:30:10-05

The United States Secret Service detained a Cleveland man who they said made threats against the President of the United States and presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton.

According to an affidavit from Secret Service Agent Matthew Luczak, a criminal complaint and arrest warrant for Jonathan Smead was issued for violating Title 18, United States Code, Section 871 regarding threats against the President and Section 875 regarding threats against another via interstate communication. The document said Smead made a direct threat to take the life or cause physical harm to the President. Smead also said he would injure a candidate for the U.S. presidency.


The affidavit read on Feb. 28 around 10:16 p.m., the Secret  Service, Chicago Field Office received a call, which was then forwarded to the Cleveland Field Office. The caller asked if the line was recorded. Before the agent could respond, the called said, "I want to kill President Obama." The caller asked if his statement was a federal offense, but continued to speak about past assassins including John Wilkes Booth and Lee Harvey Oswald. He then said he "wants to kill Hillary Clinton." 

The caller identified himself as 35-year-old Jonathan Smead, provided his social security number and said he was living with his grandmother on Spring Road in Cleveland. Before the call ended, Smead said he "wants federal charges, not little state charges."

Smead was detained on Feb. 29 by the Secret Service and was interviewed by a U.S. Secret Service agent, Cleveland police and Luczak, the affidavit stated. Smead admitted to making the call mentioned above and said he had been drinking alcohol prior to making the call. He said he did not know why he decided to threaten the President or Clinton. He said he did not want to harm either one of them.

"i don't know what to think about all this," said Joyce Smead. "I don't know what's wrong with the boy. i just don't know."

Smead told officials he had been watching The West Wing, a fictional television show about the President of the United States, and he was also very interested in past presidents--specifically John F. Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln, who were both assassinated. 

The affidavit said Smead shared he had an interest in assassins and past presidential assassinations, particularly the Kennedy assassination. He said he also visited the location where Kennedy was assassinated.

Secret Service agents met with Smead's step-grandmother Joyce Smead on Feb. 29. She confirmed Smead had been living with her since December of 2015. She also said the number Smead used to make the call was her personal cell phone. 

Joyce Smead told officials Jonathan Smead had been mentally distraught since his stepfather died in April of 2015. She also said he had an obsession with anything to do with the Kennedy assassination, which included reading books, watching television shows, and talking about the assassination. 

Officials contacted Smead's sister Lisa Henry. Henry said Smead was an alcoholic and needed help. She said Smead was living with her after his stepfather died, but moved out in December of 2015 since she could not take care of him any longer. She, too, said he had a hard time dealing with his stepfather's death.

Henry also said Smead talked of killing himself before he moved to Cleveland in 2015. He entered the Navy after 1999, but was discharged after he threatened to commit suicide.

Henry believed Smead called police and threatened to kill the President of the United States two years ago. She believed Smead had been drinking when the incident occurred, but did not believe he was ever charged by police.

On Feb. 22, Smead called the Mobile Crisis Intervention Line threatening suicide with a gun to his head and a knife to his throat. Cleveland police went to his home and were approached by Smead with what appeared to be a handgun in his waistband. The gun turned out to be a replica weapon unable to fire live ammunition, according to the affidavit. He was disarmed without incident, but when he was questioned he said he was still upset about his stepfather dying and wanted to harm himself.

Smead is currently in police custody and appeared in court on Wednesday. If charged, Smead's attorney said he could face a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He is back in court for a pre-trial and dention hearing on March 9th.