Note to people planning to threaten high-profile political figures: Don’t do it; there are more productive ways to exorcise your frustrations on a particular subject, I promise. Note #2 to people planning to threaten high-profile political figures: Definitely don’t do it on Facebook, because the authorities can see you do it there. If only Florida student Joaquin Amador Serrapio had thought of that second point before using the social network to ask if anyone wanted to join in an attempt on President Barack Obama earlier this year.
The 20-year-old Serrapio faces up to five years in prison after pleading guilty to a single count of threatening to kill or harm the President on Facebook in February of this year. According to his attorney Alan Ross, he’ll likely be given a lighter sentence as there is no evidence that he actually intended to carry out his threat, which was described by Ross as an attempt to “get a reaction from political supporters of President Obama.”
The Miami-Dade College music business student actually made two separate Facebook references to killing the President during his February visit to the Sunshine State. On February 21, he asked “”Who wants to help me assassinate Obummer while hes at UM this week?” following that status up two days later (The actual day of Obama’s visit to the Serrapio’s school) with the update “If anyones going to UM to see Obama today, get ur phones out and record. Cause at any moment im gonna put a bullet through his head and u don’t wanna miss that! Youtube!”
Following the second post, the Coral Gables police department was contacted by a concerned anonymous source. The secret service became involved and sent two agents to Serrapio’s home, where they were granted entry to search for evidence by Serrapio and his mother where they found two pellet guns, an iPad with the most recent Facebook posting on it, and a cellphone on which the youth had told a friend that he was “challenging” the secret service with his Facebook comments. Reportedly, in response to a friend’s text telling him that he could “get in trouble for sayin’ that”, Serrapio replied with a text announcing that he planned to “kill at least two of [the secret service agents] when they get here,” something which would seem to undercut the defense that the original Facebook comments were intentionally incendiary to provoke Obama supporters (To be fair to Serrapio, there’s a fine line between murdering agents and giving them access to your house to search for evidence against you. No, wait).
Serrapio also originally faced charges of threatening the agents, but prosecutor Seth Schlessinger said that they would be dropped. He faces sentencing from US district court judge Marcia Cooke on August 22.