WBPD notifies Secret Service by Gregory R. Norfleet · News · November 02, 2012
West Branch Police alerted the U.S. Secret Service after someone fired three shotgun rounds at and set fire to a homemade political sign Oct. 25 in the 900 block of West Main Street, across from West Branch High School.
The painted sign, which promotes the re-election of President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, was made of plywood and posted near Main Street at the bottom of a hill in front of the home of John Fuller and Kathy Fait at 911 West Main. They reported the incident at 9:18 p.m.
WBPD Chief Mike Horihan said he reported the incident to the Secret Service because of its aggressive nature and the frequent trips Obama has made to Iowa as it is one of the potential swing states in the race for the White House. He also noted that none of the family’s other signs, also promoting Democratic candidates, were damaged.
“They were interested and took note,” Horihan said of the Secret Service. “And they asked us to keep them informed” of anything found in the investigation.
Horihan said the person who shot the sign used small-pellet rounds and fired from “close range,” which was indicated by the hole pattern.
The Fullers, in a letter to the editor, declared that the sign, which is still readable through the burn markings, would stay up.
“We hope there will be no more attempts to prevent political expression, and all of us will vote and support our candidates in a civil manner,” the couple wrote in the letter.
They note that one of their neighbors was upset, stating that they were “glad” she did not put up her own political signs.
Horihan said the sign smelled of gasoline, and both it and the ground below were burned. He believes that the vandal poured gasoline on the sign and lit it, then some of the burning gas dripped down to the yard.
Horihan said the pellets were so small, and the hill so steep leading up to the house that anyone inside the home was likely in no real danger.
“Some of the BBs did not make it through the plywood,” he said.
Still, he said that people are “entitled to their own political expressions.”
“It’s sad to have someone deface things like that,” the police chief said.
Horihan said he is not aware of any other political signs in the city being vandalized.