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Kansas man who made Biden death threat said he was ‘coming for’ the president, Secret Service alleges

Secret Service agents stand watch as President Biden in Pittsburgh on Friday. (Andrew Harnik/AP)
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Charges have been filed against a Kansas man who said he was “coming for” President Biden and was found to be in possession of ammunition, though not a weapon, according to court documents.

Scott Ryan Merryman first called police in Independence, Kan., this past week to say he was going to Washington to see Biden, according to a complaint filed in Maryland federal court on Friday. He allegedly told the Secret Service in a phone interview the next day that God had said he should go to the capital to “lop off the head of the serpent in the heart of the nation,” Senior Special Agent Lisa Koerber said in a sworn affidavit.

Merryman repeatedly denied that the serpent was a reference to the president, but on Thursday, Merryman called the White House, where a switchboard operator said he explicitly threatened Biden, the Secret Service said. Merryman, whose Facebook profile states he works in construction and used to be employed by the Army, said during that call that he was “going to cut off the head of the snake/anti-Christ,” according to the complaint. News of the charges was first reported by the Daily Beast.

After the White House phone conversation, Merryman told a Secret Service agent who spoke with him: “I’m coming for … sleepy Joe. I’m talking about President Biden, and you can quote me,” charging papers said.

The previous day, Secret Service agents met Merryman in the parking lot of a Cracker Barrel in Hagerstown, Md., the service said. He consented to a search in which he was found with three rounds of ammunition, although he told law enforcement that he no longer had a weapon, according to charges.

The Secret Service allege Merryman violated at least two federal laws, including one that prohibits threatening to harm the president. That charge carries a prison term of up to five years.

A Facebook page that the complaint said belonged to Merryman also contained what the Secret Service described as “a series of increasingly threatening verbiage.” In a Tuesday post — one of many rife with extremist Christian rhetoric — Merryman allegedly wrote that he would go “on a God led journey to our nations capital,” and asked his followers “watch my strategic moves for the coming days.”

In a post on Thursday that appears to have been deleted, Merryman wrote that he planned to “jump a fence” and see Biden before he “slay[s] the Anti-Christ,” according to screenshots submitted to the court. (He also wrote that he needed to get rid of the ammunition before entering the White House.)

Merryman also allegedly wrote that his Facebook followers should call the White House and “ask for President AntiChrist … to let them know we’re coming to kill them.” That separate post was subsequently deleted.

Merryman, 37, was booked Thursday at the Washington County jail in Hagerstown, and he remained held Saturday, jail officials said. He is expected to make an initial appearance in federal court this coming week — where he will be appointed a lawyer if he does not have one — after U.S. Magistrate Judge A. David Copperthite of Baltimore signed charging papers Friday.

According to state court records, Merryman was initially held Thursday on a complaint lodged by a Maryland State Police trooper charging him with misdemeanor disorderly conduct and resisting or impeding arrest. Merryman was released on personal recognizance on those state charges by the District Court of Maryland for Washington County after waiving counsel, according to court records, and after federal felony charges were brought, under which he continued to be detained.

A spokesman for the Secret Service declined to comment. Merryman could not be reached for comment.

The scariest moment of a presidential transition: Six gunshots fired at FDR

Thousands of threats are lodged at presidents every year. The Secret Service, which is charged with presidential protection, generally limits the information it releases to avoid triggering more threats. “Media attention given to certain kinds of criminal activity seems to generate further criminal activity,” according to a Justice Department document. “This is especially true concerning presidential threats.”

The document also noted that the average number of threats against people protected by the Secret Service increased sharply on a year-on-year basis in the six months after a March 30, 1981, assassination attempt on then-President Ronald Reagan.

The man who shot Reagan, John W. Hinckley Jr., will be granted full unconditional release this year. He was motivated to act by a movie about a would-be assassin of a presidential candidate.

Four presidents have been assassinated while in office, according to the National Archives. Others have been the objects of plots that were never carried out, according to the archives.