Image: Michael Stephen Bowden
AP
Booking photo of Michael Stephen Bowden of Woodruff, S.C. Bowden, 78, a former New York City policeman.
NBC, msnbc.com and news services
updated 11/26/2010 8:48:29 AM ET 2010-11-26T13:48:29

A former police officer has been arrested and accused of threatening to kill President Barack Obama.

NBC station WYFF reported that a sworn statement from the Secret Service says that 78-year-old Michael Stephen Bowden was arrested earlier this month.

The Secret Service says Bowden told a nurse at a Veterans Affairs clinic in northwestern South Carolina that he was "was thinking of traveling to Washington, D.C., to shoot the president because he was not doing enough to help African Americans."

He made the remark after he was asked by a mental health nurse if he was suicidal, WYFF said. Bowden later tested positive for suicidal tendencies.

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Agents allege that they found three handguns and a rifle under Bowden's bed, and a dozen other guns in the house.

According to WYFF, Bowden was in the Navy for four years and was a former New York City police officer and fire captain.

'Two bypass surgeries'
The agents alleged Bowden did not deny making the threatening statements.

"If I had the opportunity to get Obama against the wall and shoot him, I would," the affidavit quoted Bowden as saying.

His son, Kerry Bowden, said the family didn't know his father had suicidal tendencies in April until the agents arrived Nov. 16.

"He was acting out," the suspect's son told WYFF. "He did not have the intent. Let's face it — he's a 78-year-old man that's gone through two bypass surgeries.

"If he lifts anything over 20 pounds, he has to pop a nitro because of his chest pain. If he walks up the hill or too far, he has to stop and pop a nitro because of his chest pain. Is this man really a threat?" he added.

A spokesman for the Secret Service told WYFF that Bowden has already made his initial court appearance and would be undergoing a mental evaluation in the federal prison system.

The Associated Press, NBC News and msnbc.com staff contributed to this report.

Video: Man, 78, arrested for Obama death threat

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