A tall man with a loaded fanny pack kept a close watch over Spokane City Council chambers Monday evening.
He was a police officer dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt, but he didn’t stop by because of his interest in civics.
He and his rookie partner were there for the council’s protection.
Earlier in the day, a caller got upset with a federal agency and threatened the employee that he would “go shoot all the legislators, starting with the mayor.”
The man added that no one should be surprised if he showed up at Monday’s meeting with a gun.
The employee told her boss, who called the mayor’s office.
News of the threat sent a shiver of fear through a council wary of another Fairchild or Seattle courthouse shooting.
Mayor Jack Geraghty warned his colleagues of the threat and staff alerted police.
“We thought it would be better if we had an officer there,” Geraghty said.
Police investigated the incident, but making a threat isn’t a crime so no charges were filed.
Although the man later called the agency back to apologize, no one at City Hall wanted to take any chances.
“We’ve had threats before, but times are different now,” said Bill Pupo, assistant city manager.
In fact, a few threats combined with a recent surge in petty thefts is causing the city to consider tightening the building’s security.
The council occasionally asks for a police officer to monitor the chambers.
“It’s almost impossible to secure because it’s so open,” said City Manager Roger Crum. “We don’t want to make it look like a fortress.”
Councilman Chris Anderson said that, in the past, the council joked about putting bullet-proof glass in front of the podium.
“It originally was said tongue-incheek,” Anderson said. “It’s not so funny anymore.”
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