The Secret Service had to act after 20-year-old Joaquin Amador Serrapio Jr. threatened President Barack Obama in Facebook posts leading up to the president’s trip to Miami last week, law enforcement experts say.
Paul Phillip, a former Miami FBI director, said the Secret Service does many interviews and investigations, “but they don’t arrest that many people.”
“And if they are satisfied with what they see is significant and they go forward with an arrest, I would take it very seriously,” he said.
On Wednesday Serrapio’s mother told NBC 6 that the family has not hired an attorney yet, and said she could not comment on the arrest of her son beyond that.
Serrapio, of 236 SW 136th Place in west Miami-Dade, has been appointed a public defender, federal court records say. He was arrested last Thursday for making threats against the president, but was taken into custody before he could make any attempt to harm Obama, according to authorities.
"Who wants to help me assassinate Obummer while hes at UM this week?" Serrapio wrote on Facebook under the alias “Jay Valor,” according to the criminal complaint against him.
He also wrote, "If anyones going to UM to see obama today, get ur phones out an record. Cause at any moment im gonna put a bullet through his head and u don't wanna miss that! Youtube!" according to the complaint.
Serrapio also sent text messages in which he said he was “challenging” Obama’s “communist administration,” and threatened Secret Service agents, the complaint said.
Serrapio’s online writings were certainly enough for federal agents to arrest him, experts said.
The man who headed the Miami-Dade Police Department for years said there was excellent coordination between local authorities in Coral Gables who got the initial tip and federal agents.
“In this case the issue was urgently important, and that is that of an individual threatening to harm the president,” Robert Parker said. “In some people’s opinion they would think that it was a veiled threat. I think that all threats should be taken seriously.”