Definitely On The Naughty List: Police Arrest Parent Volunteer At Santa Workshop Who Allegedly Said She Would Shoot Visiting South Carolina Governor Haley

jennifer-phillipsJennifer Phillips, 46, picked a curious scene to allegedly threaten the life of South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley. First, Haley was appearing to discuss bullying and the need to stop such behavior. Second, Phillips was a volunteer Santa’s helper at the Santa’s workshop event. Phillips allegedly told a third party upon learning of Haley’s visit that “I’m going to smuggle a gun in and kill this Governor.”

The school felt it had to take the comment seriously for good reason and called the police. However, this sounds like the type of juvenile statement that adults often make to show their anger with politicians. Haley was elected with the support of Sarah Palin and the Tea Party and has many opponents in the state who view her as an extremist. Yet, the school is hardly in a position to ignore such a threat in the hope that it is meant in jest without some inquiry. It is not clear if an informal inquiry was made in this case before calling the police.

Here is the applicable statutory provision:

SECTION 16-3-1040. Threatening life, person or family of public official or public employee; punishment.

(A) It is unlawful for a person knowingly and wilfully to deliver or convey to a public official or to a teacher or principal of an elementary or secondary school any letter or paper, writing, print, missive, document, or electronic communication or verbal or electronic communication which contains a threat to take the life of or to inflict bodily harm upon the public official, teacher, or principal, or members of his immediate family if the threat is directly related to the public official’s, teacher’s, or principal’s professional responsibilities.

(B) It is unlawful for a person knowingly and wilfully to deliver or convey to a public employee a letter or paper, writing, print, missive, document, or electronic communication or verbal or electronic communication which contains a threat to take the life of or to inflict bodily harm upon the public employee or members of his immediate family if the threat is directly related to the public employee’s official responsibilities.

(C) A person who violates the provisions of subsection (A), upon conviction, must be fined not more than five thousand dollars or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.

(D) A person who violates the provisions of subsection (B), upon conviction, must be fined not more than five hundred dollars or imprisoned not more than thirty days, or both.

What is interesting is the lack of a scienter element — differentiating between a joke and a threat. I addressed this line in an earlier column on people being arrested for jokes at airports.

The incident raises a question of what the proper response to such a threat should be. If the principal believed this to be a joke after confronting Phillips, would it have been enough to demand that she not be at the school for the event?

Source: WBTV

16 thoughts on “Definitely On The Naughty List: Police Arrest Parent Volunteer At Santa Workshop Who Allegedly Said She Would Shoot Visiting South Carolina Governor Haley

  1. “(A)….if the threat is directly related to the public official’s, teacher’s, or principal’s professional responsibilities.”
    “(B)…if the threat is directly related to the public employee’s official responsibilities. ”

    She should have said “I’m going to smuggle a gun in and kill this person that I don’t like personally and who just happens to be Governor.”

    Lese-majeste much?

  2. I have one question. Did this volunteer have a history of being a Democrat? If so, that explains it. There a some people who live in SC who think it is or should be a crime to be a Democrat.

  3. This idea of claiming it to be a joke, (of course after one is arrested) doesn’t fly with me. All one would have to do is make such a statement in a slightly comical way or even not for that matter, it accomplishes intimidating the victim and then the suspect disclaims responsibility by proclaiming it to be merely a joke. Essentially this permits others to threaten with a preconceived defense.

    At the very, very least this is from a practical standpoint an example of felony stupidity. I don’t believe a person can not expect at a venue to be held with the governor arriving shortly to say “I’m going to smuggle in a gun and kill the governor” without being hooked up by four men wearing suits who work for the state patrol.

    Lump of coal in the stocking for her.

  4. Just an observation: It is interesting to notice that both Nicky- Namrata Singh Haley and Bobby Piyush Jindal, the former from a devout Sikh family and the latter from a devout Hindu family; both from the state of Punjab,India. They still have their legal names intact.

    They invented fake Christian names and converted to Christianity for one simple reason.

    Political ambitions.

    But the irony is that both are the Governors of the states in the south where racism against anyone but white is well known and documented. In my opinion why they have survived and the latter thrived is because they are well educated Republicans who are adored by the Republican Godfather Rush and his ilk which also gives the fake impression and a cover to the Gopers of being “inclusive”.

    Had they not converted to Christianity, they would have stood ZERO chance to be where they are today. So, in other words, educated brown person is better than educated black person in the racist South as long as they are Christians.

    Case in point, we all know how 2 Muslim members of the Congress from the other side of the aisle are treated by the racist/ bigoted right wingers.

    Lastly, Obama congratulated Indians both Sikhs and Hindus for Diwali- The festival of Lights celebrated last month with a message from the White House. The same he did last week to the Sikhs for the anniversary of the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak.

    One wonders why didn’t these two say anything about it as Governors who have Indians residing in their respective states and more importantly, it hits home more for them than President Obama.

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2012/11/14/white-house-celebrates-diwali

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/11/28/statement-president-anniversary-birth-guru-nanak-dev-ji

  5. I don’t know the tone in which she made the statement, but the words are pretty clear and pretty damning. If she’s got a pretty clean record and no indication that she’d actually do this other than this statement, then I hope she gets off light (perhaps only probation). But, seems like a clear violation of the law and a stupid thing for her to say.

  6. Waldo, I agree. And if she does have a clean record I doubt she’ll serve time. Probation, psychiatric eval. and follow up treatment most likely.

  7. This is only one case where freedom of speech is a lie. Where there are jails freedom will never exist. Islsmic law is not freedom either. Have a person kill. God who is eternal will judge them. Have people take that to heart, no one will not want to kill.

  8. The words are pretty clearly a threat. The school’s responsibility is to be sure she doesn’t have a chance to carry it out. That’s a job for the police. In making an important decision it’s usually a good idea to consider “what are the consequences if I’m wrong?” In this case, what if the cops weren’t called and the threat was for real? What if the cops ignored the threat? Good decisions all around.

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