The Texas man who was indicted by the FBI on charges of threatening to kill President Barack Obama said Thursday the threat was a prank because Obama misrepresented himself.
Timothy Ryan Gu-tierrez, 20, who was staying with relatives in Cortez was indicted by a federal grand jury on Monday. He faces one count of transmission of threats and one count of falsely threatening to use explosives.
According to the indictment, Gutierrez allegedly sent an e-mail to the FBI in Washington, on Jan. 12, eight days before the inauguration, saying: "I'm going to assassinate the new president of the United States of America. P.S., you have 48 hours to stop it from happening."
"I'm not prejudiced against Obama," Gu-tierrez said Thursday during an interview outside the Cortez residence where he was staying. "I'm not mad about him becoming president, but he's not doing what he said he was going to do."
Gutierrez, of Andrews, Texas, said Thursday that his brother was about to drive him to Durango to turn himself in to the FBI.
FBI agents arrested Gutierrez late Thursday afternoon, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Denver. Gutierrez will be held in custody in Durango and make his initial court appearance today.
Cortez Police Chief Roy Lane said FBI Special Agent John Wallace, of Durango, visited his department Jan. 12 to inform police about his plan to speak with Gutierrez about the e-mail. The chief said two city officers accompanied Wallace to Gutierrez's residence in Cortez, as a security measure for the interview, which took place about 2:30 p.m. Jan. 12.
"When they knocked on my door, I already knew what I did," Gutierrez said. "They took it seriously. I'm in serious (expletive)."
The federal indictment also says Gutierrez threatened to blow up the Mall of America.
The document quotes more from a second alleged e-mail: "What are you waiting for you have 48 hours remember and one more thing that I have forgotten to mention I have rigged 40 pounds of C4, he and my favorite TNT to 7 cars outside the Mall of America good luck thank you and God bless the you know the rest time is wasting."
The Mall of America is a large shopping mall in Minnesota. The second e-mail was indeed referring to that mall, and not the National Mall in Washington, where crowds watched Obama's inauguration, said Jeff Dorschner, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office in Denver.
The Mall of America has more than 520 stores and is among the largest indoor shopping malls in the world.
Gutierrez said most of his complaints against Obama stem from the president's actions regarding the economy.
"He's not doing anything for the lower class - just the middle and upper class," Gutierrez said. "Medications are going up, not lowering, and jobs are being lost. His actions are going to get him in trouble."
Gutierrez's biggest complaint about the president focused on the increased pressure to halt oil operations.
"He's shutting down all the oil factories," Gutierrez said about Obama. "Texas just lost 40 oil rigs in one town. I'm pretty mad about that."
Gutierrez said he didn't vote in this last election, nor did he favor Republican John McCain, even though McCain is "more of an oil guy."
In Texas, Gutierrez didn't have a job but "played with computers" by taking them apart and putting them back together. He said this knowledge helped him hack into the Web site for the U.S. Department of Defense and the FBI.
"I wanted to see what was really going on," he said. "I learned it on my own. There are 500 acres of encryption data (to go through), but I found a slip through it. There's always a hole.
"I didn't think they would actually find it," he said about the e-mail message he left on the FBI system.
After leaving an e-mail on the system's mainframe, Gutierrez said, a "gripload of feds" were dispatched to his parents' home in Andrews, Texas, within three days. Agents then came to his brother's home in Cortez, searched the house and spoke with Gutierrez about the incident.
"They were pissed," he said. "Whatever happens, I blame myself for what I did. My brother had nothing to do with this."
The laptop used to allegedly hack into the FBI's Web site was confiscated and remains in FBI custody, Gutierrez said. A week after the FBI confiscated the laptop, Secret Service agents arrived to talk with him, he said.
Gutierrez said Wallace, the FBI agent, warned him not to talk with media about the incident.
"But it doesn't matter either way," Gutierrez said. "The judge will decide what he is going to decide."
A call to the FBI office in Durango Thursday was referred to Kathy Wright, media coordinator for the Denver FBI office. Wright said she could not comment on the case.
The charges carry maximum penalties of five years (transmission of threats) and 10 years (falsely threatening to use explosives) in prison, plus a $250,000 fine.
Cortez Police Chief Lane said he has no knowledge of any illegal incidents involving Gutierrez in or around Cortez.
"He's not one of our regulars," the chief said. "I don't think he's been here very long."
A background check through the Colorado Bureau of Investigation's Web site showed no previous criminal history for Gutierrez.
Bob Barnhart, a Montezuma County real estate agent who co-owns the where Gutierrez was staying, said Gutierrez has never been a registered tenant at the Cortez residence.
"He's not a registered tenant at any of those units, and there are eight of them," Barnhart said. "(Unit four) is rented to a man and his wife; that's not to say he wasn't living there, but I don't know if there is a connection or not."
At least two other men are facing similar federal charges. Men in Tampa, Fla., and Omaha, Neb., were indicted this month for threatening to kill Obama, according to The Associated Press.
firstname.lastname@example.orgCortez Journal Staff Writer Steve Grazier contributed to this report.