A man with a loaded rifle, a machete and gasoline was arrested Friday after threatening to kill former president George W. Bush and expressing interest in a relationship with his daughter, according to multiple media reports.
Benjamin Smith, 44, was arrested by the Secret Service in New York City after telling agents he was divorced and "working on a relationship with Barbara Bush." Reuters, quoting from a criminal complaint filed in federal court, reported Smith screamed "Bush will get his!" as he was taken into custody. Barbara Pierce Bush, 32, is the elder of the 43rd president's twin girls.
George Ogilvie, a spokesman for the U.S. Secret Service, told USA TODAY that Smith was arrested under U.S. Code Title 18 Section 879, which prohibits threats against a former president. Ogilvie would not go into detail about the incident.
At a preliminary hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrea Griswold told U.S. Magistrate Judge Henry Pitman that the government believes Smith was referring to the former president's oldest daughter and not Bush's mother, who shares the same name, Reuters reported.
Smith was found with a loaded Rossi .38-caliber rifle, investigators said after agents had been looking for him for more than 12 hours, according to The New York Daily News.
According to Reuters, Smith's mother called police Thursday after she found a note in the Pittsford, N.Y., home she shares with her son.
"I'm going to work for George W. Bush and the Pentagon," the note said. "I have to slay a dragon and then Barbara Bush is mine."
Using Smith's cellphone, the Secret Service tracked him down in Manhattan on Friday morning and found him sitting in his car with the weapons. The New York Daily News reports Smith laughed during his arraignment every time Griswald repeated the "slay the dragon" line from his letter.
Reuters reported Smith's attorney, Peggy Cross-Goldenberg, said the note and her client's screams are not a "true threat."
Pitman said it was "unclear" whether a jury would find Smith guilty, though she noted that Barbara Bush lives in New York City, the reports said.
"Admittedly, there is some inconsistency in the notion that the way to win Barbara Bush's affections is to kill her father," Pitman said.
A Bush spokesman told The New York Daily News the former president was not aware of Smith or his alleged threats.