November 6th, 2008
11:40 AM ET

Men accused of plotting to kill Obama indicted

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/CRIME/11/05/obama.plot.indictment/art.obama.suspects.jpg caption= "Paul Schlesselman, left, and Daniel Cowart are accused of planning to kill more than 100 African-Americans."]

Two men accused of plotting to kill Barack Obama and other African-Americans have been indicted on charges including making threats against a presidential candidate, federal officials said Wednesday.

A federal grand jury in Tennessee indicted Daniel Cowart, 20, and Paul Schlesselman, 18, on the threat charges and with illegal possession of a sawed-off shotgun and conspiracy to rob a federally licensed gun dealer.

According to court documents, Cowart and Schlesselman - who authorities said are self-described white supremacists - planned to kill more than 100 African-Americans, including 14 who would be beheaded.

They planned to cap the killing spree by charging at Obama with a car, firing from the windows as they went, dressed in white tuxedoes and top hats, the documents said.

The two were arrested last month. According to an affidavit from a federal agent who questioned them, they backed out of an October 21 attempt to rob a gun dealer after spotting two cars and a dog.


Filed under: Barack Obama • Crime & Punishment
soundoff (33 Responses)
  1. warren

    What realy scares me is that there are more people out there like these two idiots I hope Obama's security is up to the chalenge

    November 7, 2008 at 5:12 am |
  2. Angela McIntosh,NC

    Just goes to show that some Americans are still stuck in the past and the reason why we can not move forward. These young men decided to waste the rest of their lives on something as irrelevant as the color of someone's skin. This is the very reason why white people still catch so much grief to this very day.
    I did vote for McCain and Palin and I am not a racist . I have my own mind to make my own decisions with because I am an American who has freedom of choice and speech. It's not fair to blame McCain and Palin for what someone said at their rally. Blame the person who said those comments to begin with.
    Lets all to recognize and get the true word out to the American people Barack Obama is a Bi-racial American Man who is our President Elect that will be sworn into office January 20,2009. The American people should be proud that our history is not reflected today when so many people looked down on bi-racial couples and bi-racial children born to those couples. Black and white people both were the victims of violent race crimes from racist people.
    I hope Mr.Obama can start to heal our nation and I hope he can make our nation's people come together. I wish all the best for Mr. Obama, his wife and his children. More than anything I would love to see a picture of his daughters' faces when they walk through the white house for the very first time. I am truely excited for his girls.

    November 6, 2008 at 9:08 pm |
  3. Martha Peoples

    It is absolutely awful what these men did. But they are not alone we need to pray for our Country and for those who still hate people because they are different. Just yesterday a school teacher told my grandaughters class that it is a sad day in America because Baracj Obama was elected president. I thought she was sad and requested my grandchild be moved from her class

    November 6, 2008 at 4:38 pm |
  4. Betty, Virginia

    They knew what they were doing and now they must pay the price. Hate crimes must not be tolerated. I'm glad they were caught before they were able to carry their plans out. May they never see the outside of a jail cell again...

    November 6, 2008 at 4:28 pm |
  5. Brittany

    This was a very stupid and sick move of them to even try to plan. Why would they even think of something so ignorant to do. I will pray for them.

    November 6, 2008 at 4:19 pm |
  6. Sue, Billerica, MA

    Isn't it an automatic jail sentence to incite anyone to try and kill the President, so if anyone ever tries and says they were incited to by the hate and fear stirred up in the McCain/Palin rallies especially when Palin just laughed when someone shouted terrorist – kill him, about Obama at one rally, then would McCain and Palin be accessories if that guy from that rally ever tries anything? I know that is a stretch but it is going to take some time to get over the hate and fear mongering the republicans and their shills did to a good man like Obama and now to our soon to be President!

    November 6, 2008 at 4:11 pm |
  7. Johnny from SC

    They are young and have given up a chance to live a normal life simpy because they chose to hate human beings that have darker skin color than they do. However unfortunate as it maybe for them. It is great that these little bastards where not able to unleash their hate onto innocent children and familes. If they spend the rest of their lives in prison. It simply means we will have two less idiots teaching this hate to others. Which will possible make it safer for people of all colors.


    November 6, 2008 at 3:49 pm |
  8. Rosie

    Do not judge these two young men too harshly, for they were only doing what history taught them should be done, when Black's step out of the shadows.
    If you want to judge harshly, let this judgment be upon those who planted the ungodly seeds of evil, into the minds of these two young men, by painting Obama as some one to be feared, for the sake of winning an election.
    The sadness is, these two men believed that the people making such accusations were being truthful. Remember there are still those who believe that if you speak words publicly, they must be truth; for why would one deliberately lie about another human being.
    So its those who gave birth to this atmosphere of racial hate, just to win an election, that should bear the guilt. For as we all know, this strong racial hate did not enter the campaign trail, until Palin came aboard, and begin to spue her venom upon Obama.
    Therefore, these young men's only guilt is believing Sarah Palin's words, against Obama, to be truth. Which is why the abuse of "Freedom of speech", has become the most dangerous weapon on earth. For had not Sarah Palin, and others, abused their right to Freedom of speech, these two young men would not be on trial.
    So before you judge these young men, be sure it was not your abuse of the right to Freedom of Speech, that hope put them behind bars. Maybe you knew it was just for the sake of winning the election, but did they know that?
    Also think about how many innocent lives could have been lost, just for the sake of winning an election, had not God showed mercy.

    November 6, 2008 at 3:20 pm |
  9. Heather,ca

    All I can is planning to kill a presidential candidate doesnt go over very well with the Secret Service or the FBI. I think stupid is just to kind a word. I cant even wrap my mind around what they were going to do. Here we are 2008 we have our military fighting a war on terrorism and you have these lovely specimems of humanity and their bs. Well Im sure who ever becomes their room mate in prison will love to hear all about it for the rest of their life.I just love being any American,you know land of the free,home of the brave,the stupid,moronic etc.

    November 6, 2008 at 3:12 pm |
  10. PE

    I agree with Cindy...only I hope while in Stir, they recieve cultural sensitivty traning from the same group of people that these two inbred half wits wanted to murder. I guarantee that they will be made examples of, and they will be too sore to hate anybody. Too bad...so sad.

    November 6, 2008 at 3:10 pm |
  11. Ron

    I've been really worried about something like this. I greatly admire Obama for even running for president. Sadly, there will always be individuals who are unwilling to accept him based on color.

    Even though I may disagree with Obama politically, I pray that nothing terrible happens to him. Not just for him and his families sake, but for the public outrage that would happen in the wake of such a tragedy.

    This country has just made a monumental step forward regarding race issues, I really hope it's not ruined by those who live a life of ignorance and intolerance.

    November 6, 2008 at 2:52 pm |
  12. Dennis

    These men are domestic terrorists. An example needs to made of them. I hope the Secret Service is up to the task, the likes they've never seen before in protecting an African-American president.

    November 6, 2008 at 2:41 pm |
  13. Patricia

    The whole "supremacy" thing..be it white, black, or whomever, sickens me to my stomach!! No one race is better than the other. They both need to transform the thinking of their mind...and spend a long time in prison while doing so.

    November 6, 2008 at 2:34 pm |
  14. MA

    These men deserve to go to prison for life. Leave our new president alone: he is a wonderful man. They have no right to kill.

    November 6, 2008 at 2:20 pm |
  15. sally

    blacks never went out to kill whites who opressed them, these are the people who canot accept change...i agree give the LIFE imprisonment

    November 6, 2008 at 2:16 pm |
  16. Alex in Austin

    Hate to say it, but that is probably how they were raised. I wish their parents could be punished too.

    November 6, 2008 at 2:10 pm |
  17. meka......ky

    People have the right to feel any way they like. But when they think about harming people because they don't look like them than you will get what is coming to you. And we all hope that it fits the crime rather he was black or white, people have to understand that we will no longer tolerate that.

    November 6, 2008 at 2:03 pm |
  18. James in Nebraska

    Yay, 2 kids who think their big and bad. I wonder how big and bad they will feel when they're in prison.

    This is the result of failed parenting. If these where my kids I would wonder what I did wrong.

    November 6, 2008 at 2:01 pm |
  19. rayette polk

    people who hate other people simply because they dont look like them, I feel sad for them because they are ignorant and hate will take them to a early grave. No ones skin color was a accident.

    November 6, 2008 at 1:55 pm |
  20. Kri`Shon S. Long

    They need to be hospialized and treated. Putting them in jain or releasing them will not help them to get better. If they are released without medical help, I guarantee we will see them again on the news, but this time they would have killed someone. The judical system needs change and I know the President elect thinks the same way.

    November 6, 2008 at 1:49 pm |
  21. Michael : Utah

    It it interesting how some invididuals seek to go down in history, two young me with their lives in front of them and the "best" thought is to seek a way to Kill president Obama–reason: because of what he is, which he had no choice at all in the matter as they themselves had no choice in the matter of what they are. People are truly stupid!!!

    November 6, 2008 at 1:40 pm |
  22. Jeanette

    these sickies need to be put away.

    November 6, 2008 at 1:35 pm |
  23. hattie johnson

    It is a sad day in America or any country when people like these two lerk in the background intent on destruction and mayhem. Society will be better off without them.

    November 6, 2008 at 1:24 pm |
  24. Rashelle & Kara

    Thats So Wrong. We personally don't like Obama but...We have respect for Everything he has earned and achieved so far. This is a disgrace. Those men are awful.

    November 6, 2008 at 1:18 pm |
  25. Jennifer

    I agree that people who are planning on murdering anyone should be taken off of the streets, but. . . we all have to go a little farther. Our society has gone from caring about the community to only thinking of oneself. When are we going to start teaching the children respect and care and love? When are we going to start showing people, by example, that everyone is equal and that hatred and bigotry is not tolerated? When we see injustice when will speek up against it? When will we, as a society, say that everyone matters and not just oneself?

    November 6, 2008 at 1:16 pm |
  26. nita...va

    that shows you that there is still alot of hateful people in the world. that was really not right to want to kill someone due to the color of there skin. life is to short for trying to killing people we all need to just get along. if the children can play together why can' t the adults.

    November 6, 2008 at 1:15 pm |
  27. Stacey

    Hate turns everyone into idiots! Add hate with imbreeding, lack of education and a strict diet of Macdonalds...you get losers like these two! i hope they learn something in life.

    November 6, 2008 at 12:32 pm |
  28. Charisse Van Horn Riverview, Florida

    To see these two men stand before a jury of their peers (and not an all white jury in Tennessee) and if found guilty, convicted and sentenced, would be another triumph and testimony to the progress America has made in civil rights!

    November 6, 2008 at 12:30 pm |
  29. Mary V., Salt Lake City, UT

    What a tragic thing this is! I blame the vitriolic comments by the far-right-hate-fear-and-division mongers for these men! The tone of McCain/Palin campaign was so hateful, so vile that it energized the hate in some people! All you had to do was listen to some of the video of a Palin or McCain rally and one knew that hate was fostered there.

    Even today, the far-right-hate-and-fear-mongers are out, spreading their vile division on blogs and throughout our Nation.

    How is it Patriotic to plot to Kill?
    How is it Patriotic to attack the newly elected president, and wish him harm?
    How is it Patriotic to want a divided America?

    And worse, how is it CHRISTIAN to "bear false witness about your neighbor" as many of the far-right-hate-mongers and the Republicans have done?

    These men are evil incarnate. They need to be sent to prison for life, to send a clear and strong message to would-be-killers every where that we, Americans, wont stand for HATE CRIMES!

    November 6, 2008 at 12:24 pm |
  30. Sam Johnson

    Where does all the hate come from? What caused these guys to think that this was the best course of action? I hope they get put away for a long time...

    November 6, 2008 at 12:19 pm |
  31. Melissa, Los Angeles

    One word – LOSERS.

    November 6, 2008 at 12:11 pm |
  32. Vickie MO.

    I hope they get life! Premeditated murderer's deserve to be locked up. They have mental problem's!

    November 6, 2008 at 11:59 am |
  33. Cindy

    These men are absolutely stupid! You may have issues with people and not like them or their ways but to plot to kill them is idiotic. They deserve whatever happens to them....hopefully that'll be a VERY long time in prison.


    November 6, 2008 at 11:44 am |