McMechen man charged with Obama threats

McMECHEN – A 20-year-old McMechen man is facing federal charges after allegedly sending letters to President Barack Obama using racial slurs and threatening to kill him.

Ryan Kirker of 1515 Caldwell St. was arrested last week on suspicion that he sent at least one letter to the White House that closed with the phrase “KKK forever.”

According to an affidavit from U.S. Secret Service Special Agent Ken Skaggs, the White House received the letter in April, addressed to “President B. Obama.” The letter included specific threats to the president, as well as his daughters and first lady Michelle Obama.

The letter was analyzed by forensic experts, who also determined Kirker had written about plans to kill Obama in a March 28 letter to someone named John. The affidavit states indentations in the paper linked the two letters.

In the March letter, Kirker tells John to meet him so the two can travel to Washington, D.C. The letter also makes threatening references to the president’s wife and daughters. Kirker also allegedly mentions that he has a “30.06 semi-auto” and the ability to obtain armor-piercing ammunition.

The March letter also makes reference to “the Feds,” who Kirker said had previously visited his home to investigate a third letter in June 2012.

The affidavit states Kirker wrote that investigators “Forgot About it” when they saw how sick his father was. Kirker allegedly wrote he did not know how authorities knew to seek out his family, but he speculated they may have obtained fingerprints from the letter. He allegedly promised to use “clean paper” and to wear gloves in the future.

Skaggs wrote he did visit the residence in June 2012 to investigate the previous letter, sent and received in April 2012. The letter allegedly invites the president to come to McMechen so the author “can have a shot” at him. He also allegedly threatens the first lady and expresses that “he is glad the President will not be able to figure out who wrote the letter because he … has tons of money in his safes and receives social security.”

During that investigation, Skaggs spoke to Kirker and his father, Lenny Kirker, in addition to Kirker’s mother and uncle. The affidavit indicates Lenny Kirker was ill at the time and had difficulty writing.

Authorities compared the April 2012 letter to another allegedly written by Lenny Kirker to a person named John. In that letter, the author expresses appreciation for educating him on how to fraudulently obtain Social Security benefits.

Formal handwriting analysis is pending, though Skaggs states in the complaint he believes the handwriting in all of the involved letters belongs to Ryan Kirker. He cites the distinctive writing style, as well as the capitalization of random words, as his evidence until more analysis is completed.

Ryan Kirker is being held without bond at the Northern Regional Jail in Moundsville and is scheduled to appear before a federal magistrate today.