DENVER – A judge has denied bail for a Colorado man accused of telling his therapist he wanted to kill President Barack Obama and shoot schoolchildren despite objections from his defense attorney that the suspect had been questioned while hospitalized for a mental breakdown.
The judge also ruled Monday that the evidence against Mitchell Kenneth Kusick, 20, of Westminster is sufficient to send his case to federal district court for trial. U.S. Magistrate Judge Kristen Mix called the case “very troubling” and noted that Kusick may have suffered some type of mental issue.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Hosley had argued that Kusick’s attempt to steal a shotgun from his aunt and uncle and unsuccessful attempt to buy ammunition at Walmart raised the threat beyond “idle talk.”
Court records say Kusick made comments about wanting to kill people to his therapist Oct. 29. The therapist called police and told his family to take him to a hospital, where Kusick was placed on a mental-health hold. He is now in federal custody on suspicion of threats against a president and he faces a misdemeanor charge in state court for the threats against the school.
Marci Gilligan, a private attorney hired by Kusick’s family, noted that U.S. Secret Service agents showed up at a hospital at 3:30 a.m. to question Kusick. Hosley argued that Kusick was aware of “location and time” when questioned by the Secret Service and voluntarily made statements after being read his Miranda Rights.
During testimony in court, Secret Service agent Melissa Blake testified that Kusick had moved a weapon at his aunt and uncle’s house, but when he tried to buy ammunition from Walmart, he couldn’t because he was too young. The aunt learned that Kusick had the weapon and made him give it back.
Blake who investigated the case wrote in the arrest affidavit that Kusick told his therapist that he had daily homicidal fantasies for the past five to six years and that he was obsessed with the Columbine and Virginia Tech shootings, as well as the Jessica Ridgeway abduction and slaying in his hometown.
Kusick also claimed to have visited websites to learn how to build bombs and obtain blueprints for Standley Lake High School, which is where the suspect in Jessica’s death once attended and is in the same neighborhood where the 10-year-old was abducted.
“Some people just want to watch the world burn down, and I’m one of them,” Kusick is quoted by the federal agent as telling his therapist.
Kusick later said the attack on children had been planned for Halloween because he was looking for a place where he could have the biggest impact, according to Blake’s testimony. He told Secret Service agents who interviewed him that he studied the Aurora theater shooting and noted what suspect James Holmes did wrong and what he would have done differently.
“I share an understanding of his situation,” Kusick said.
Kusick told agents that he wanted to assassinate Obama or a political figure to gain infamy, not because he hated the president. In seeking to arrest Kusick, Secret Service agents noted that Obama had a well-publicized appearance at the University of Colorado on Nov. 1, three days after Kusick’s alleged statements to his therapist about wanting to kill Obama.
Gilligan described Kusick as a good student with no violent episodes in the past. She said that Kusick had been prescribed Prozac for depression but was recently diagnosed with a bipolar condition. Also, Gilligan said Kusick’s medication changed before he was released from a hospital after a weeklong stay.