Burned cat in Mpls. park puts Secret Service on alert

  • Article by: PAUL WALSH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 13, 2012 - 11:18 PM

The cat was staked with an American flag next to an Obama/Biden lawn sign in Minneapolis' Longfellow Park.

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A threat to President Obama in the form of a burnt cat staked to a tree stump at Longfellow Park drew the attention of the Minneapolis crime lab and police.

Photo: Richard Tsong-Taatarii, Star Tribune

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A threat to President Obama in the form of a burned cat staked to a tree stump drew officers from several city and federal agencies to a south Minneapolis park before dawn on Monday.

The cat's carcass in Longfellow Park was staked with a handheld American flag on a small stick, according to a federal law enforcement official. Standing next to the cat was an Obama/Biden 2012 lawn sign, the official said.

No arrests have been made.

Obama's official schedule Monday shows him leaving Chicago for Omaha and then on to Boone, Iowa, about 230 miles south of Minneapolis.

The park's main building is also an election polling place. Tuesday is a primary election day in Minneapolis and elsewhere in the state.

Luther Ranheim, who lives about four blocks from the park, was walking his puppy and came upon the scene a little less than two hours after the cat's discovery. "I was like what the hell is that?" he said. "It made me sick to my stomach."

John Dynneson has lived in the neighborhood for 45 years and doesn't recall anything like this happening before in the park, located across the street from his house. He passed the yellow tape this morning while walking his dog and said, "It was really a bizarre scene." He saw no signs indicating that the cat had been burned at the park but he locked up his dog in the house before going to work.

Park Board spokeswoman Dawn Sommers said the cat was found by a park employee.

Agencies that responded to the threat included the Secret Service, the FBI, the federal Department of Homeland Security, officers from the Minneapolis Park Police and Minneapolis Police Department.

The federal official said there are no surveillance cameras in the south end of Longfellow Park, located just north of E. 35th Street about half a mile east of Hiawatha Avenue S.

On the stump along with the cat, with the flag's stick staked through its throat, were an iced tea can and a cat food tin, the federal official said. There was no note, the official added.

Threats against the president in any form in this part of the country are fairly rare, the official said.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482

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