Ron Barber Says Threat Won't Deter Him From Job; Arizona Suspect Indicted
Congressman Ron Barber
Arizona Congressman Ron Barber, shot twice during the 2011 Tucson massacre that wounded his former boss, Gabrielle Giffords, won't let a phoned-in threat bother him.
Details are still murky concerning last week's arrest of a man from Arkansas who phoned in a threat to the Democratic Congressman's Sierra Vista office.
In a statement released today, Barber makes it clear that he's not cowed:
"The safety of the people I represent here in Southern Arizona and my staff is my top concern," Barber wrote to New Times. "I would like to thank the law enforcement personnel for the job they do protecting our communities. This incident will not deter me from doing my job and serving the people of Southern Arizona."
Michael Wayne Cummins, born in 1968, called Barber's office on August 20th, according to court documents.
After spelling his name for posterity's sake, he told a staff member, ""I am not interested in killing Ron, but I am interested in bashing his teeth in and seeing him rot in hell."
Cummins allegedly continued, " "I am just going to start killing people indiscriminately."
Cummins was arrested in Fort Smith, Arkansas on August 26th, shipped to a cell in Arizona, and subsequently indicted for making the threat. He's under a detention order and is scheduled for an arraignment on October 4th.
The FBI won't comment on the case. Neither will the Arizona U.S. Attorney's Office. Was this a case of nasty drunk-dialing, or a right-wing militia group trying to send a message to a high-profile, left-wing Congressman? We'll let you know when we learn more.
UPDATE September 24th -- It appears that Cummins isn't from Arkansas, but has lived in Sierra Vista for the last few years. Police in Fort Smith, Arkansas, told us today that records show Cummins has a driver's license out of Arizona. He also gave police a Bradford, Pennsylvania, address, upon his arrest. Wil Wiemer of Sierra Vista, Cummins' stepfather, says his stepson -- the son of his late wife -- is mentally ill and typically refuses to take his meds. Wiemer hasn't talked to him in years, but saw him in Sierra Vista two weeks ago, he says.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Phoenix New Times' biggest stories.