August 26, 2008 / 3:03 PM / 11 years ago

Armed men were no threat to Obama: U.S. attorney

DENVER (Reuters) - Authorities on Tuesday were investigating whether three men arrested in Colorado with guns and drugs planned to kill Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, but said they posed no real threat.

(L-R) Tharin Gartrell, Shawn Adolf and Nathan Johnson in booking photos released by the Aurora Police Department in Aurora, Colorado, August 26, 2008. REUTERS/Handout

“We’re absolutely confident there is no credible threat to the candidate, the Democratic National Convention (in Denver), or the people of Colorado,” U.S. Attorney Troy Eid said in a statement.

ABC News quoted federal law enforcement officials saying the men, one of whom is alleged to have strong ties to a white supremacist gang, had admitted to a “crude” plan to use a rifle to kill Obama. Local media had reported the incident on Monday.

ABC News said the men had spoken of finding a high vantage point overlooking the football stadium, Invesco Field, in Denver where Obama is due to speak to the Democratic convention on Thursday night, and opening fire with scope-equipped rifles.

It quoted the sources saying that with wind movement and distance, such a shot would not have had a chance of succeeding, that the alleged plot was “crude” and that there was no immediate, credible danger to the candidate.

Local media had reported that police in the city of Aurora east of Denver found two rifles, ammunition, a bulletproof vest, walkie-talkies and methamphetamine in a rented pickup truck driven by one of the men during a traffic stop early Sunday morning.

ABC News also said the vehicle contained wigs and ski masks.

Obama, who would be the first U.S. black president, is scheduled to accept the Democratic nomination for the November 4 election on Thursday at the open-air stadium.

The suspects are Tharin Gartrell, 28, Nathan Johnson, 32, and Shawn Adolf, 33, the reports said.

Aurora police spokesmen were not immediately available for comment. U.S. Attorneys office was expected to give further details at a news conference on Tuesday afternoon.

Reporting by Keith Coffman and Andy Sullivan; editing by David Storey

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