Just days before Barack Obama accepts the Democratic nomination before an open-air crowd on the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King's 'I Have A Dream' speech, the authorities in Denver are investigating a possible assassination plot against the man bidding to be the first black president in the White House.
Three people were being held in custody, one of whom jumped from a sixth floor window of a hotel in an attempt to escape. Denver police revealed that they had earlier found two high-powered rifles, one with a telescopic sight as well as a bullet proof vest, camouflage clothing, and walkie-talkies during a routine traffic check. At least one of the rifles had been stolen Kansas. The police also discovered 44 grams of methamphetamine in the car.
According to a local CBS news channel one of the three suspects told the police they were "going to shoot Obama from a high vantage point using a ... rifle ... sighted at 750 yards."
The authorities played down talk of an assassination plot and seemed determined not to allow the investigation to overshadow Mr Obama's big moment when he appears before an estimated 70,000 people at Invesco Field stadium tomorrow (THURS) night.
“We're absolutely confident there is no credible threat to the candidate, the Democratic National Convention, or the people of Colorado,” Troy Eid, the US attorney for Colorado, said in a statement.
However, CBS reporter Brian Maass, who broke the story, managed to briefly interview one of the suspects inside Denver City Jail on Monday night. "So your friends were saying threatening things about Obama?" he asked. "Yeah," a suspect named Nathan Johnson replied. "It sounded like they didn't want him to be president?" "Yeah," Mr Johnson said.
Denver Police Department said an “aggressive” inquiry was under with the Secret Service, the F.B.I. and a joint terrorism task force taking part. A law enforcement official in Denver told the Associated Press that the three men were facing only gun charges -- a signal that officials believe the trio never posed a real threat.
A heavy security cordon has been thrown up around the Democratic convention sites, with police in paramilitary uniform patrolling the streets and sharpshooters positioned on the top of tall buildings. Mr Obama has been the subject of many threats over the past two years, many from white supremacists, and his security is a constant nagging worry for American voters.
Hilary Clinton drew heavy criticism at the end of her bitter primary struggle with the Illinois Senator when she raised the assassination of Bobby Kennedy as a reason for staying in the race. Explaining why she refused to concede long after it was clear she could never win the nomination she said: "My husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June, right? We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California..."
The first arrest was of an individual named Tharin Robert Gartrell, 28, who was driving erratically in a rented pickup truck in the early hours of Sunday morning. The others were identified as Nathan Johnson, 32, who was taken into custody a few hours later at a hotel, and Shawn Robert Adolf, 33, who leapt from a sixth-floor hotel window onto an awning below, breaking both his ankles