Christy is not to be admired
Ex-fugitive Shawn Christy, the 27-year-old Schuylkill County resident who was apprehended Friday in Ohio after a more than three-month manhunt, has been alternately referred to by supporters and detractors as a “political prisoner” or the “Wackadoo from McAdoo.”
Christy, who authorities say has threatened President Donald Trump, Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli and law enforcement officials, touched off a chase that covered six states and Canada.
Christy faces federal and local charges, many of the latter committed during his 113-day flight. No one was injured except, perhaps, Christy himself. When he was taken into custody, a spokesman for the U.S. Marshals Service said Christy was limping from an injury suffered in Maryland.
Christy was arraigned Monday in Ohio on charges of interstate threats against law enforcement officials, making threats against the President of the United States and other interstate threats.
A detention hearing will be held at 1 p.m. next Monday. Between now and then, Christy remains in custody without bail. Efforts will be made to extradite Christy to Pennsylvania where he faces multiple additional charges.
Christy is under federal indictment for threatening the president and police in social media posts between June 3 and 12.
A police dog sniffed out Christy, who was found in a ravine alongside a stream near Mansfield, Ohio, U.S. Marshal Martin Pane said. Although he was armed with a gun and a knife, Christy offered no resistance.
More than 100 law enforcement personnel had been searching for Christy since he crashed a stolen car near Mansfield on Sept. 16. The FBI and police had offered a $20,000 reward for his capture.
Christy was the subject of a federal warrant issued on June 19 after he is said to have posted Facebook threats, one of which said, “Keep it up, Morganelli. I promise I’ll put a bullet in your head as soon as I put one in the head of President Donald J. Trump.” He also threatened to use “full lethal force on any law enforcement officer that tries to detain me.”
Morganelli in a statement Monday praised law enforcement officials for apprehending Christy without bloodshed.
When he was 16, Christy was accused of harassing and sending threats to former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin when she became Sen. John McCain’s vice presidential running mate in 2008.
Christy and his parents maintained that this was a big misunderstanding, but federal officials were not buying it. In addition, Palin requested and received a restraining order against Christy to stay away from her and her family and to stop trying to contact them.
The manhunt was reminiscent of the one involving Eric Frein in 2014 after he shot and killed one Pennsylvania state trooper and wounded another at the Blooming Grove barracks in Pike County. At one point, nearly 1,000 law enforcement officials were searching for Frein, who was convicted and sentenced to death for the killing. He has appealed the conviction and sentencing.
Frein was on the run for 48 days, but the search was narrowly focused in the Monroe and Pike areas. During much of that time, schools and roads were closed because Frein was considered armed and dangerous.
Although schools did not close in the Schuylkill County area where Christy was spotted numerous times, security was beefed up at Marian Catholic after the fugitive was spotted in Rush Township. Schools did close for several days in the Mansfield, Ohio, area before his capture.
Hundreds have come forward to support Christy during his battle with law enforcement officials, including a 2017 run-in with McAdoo Mayor Stephan Holly following an argument about snow removal.
Christy is charged with four felony counts of aggravated assault and two misdemeanors for simple assault after police say he swung a large stick at Holly during their scuffle. Christy and his father were later charged with harassment for a number of telephone calls to McAdoo and Kline Township police regarding the assault case.
In fact, it was because Christy did not show up for the start of this trial that an arrest warrant was issued, and the manhunt was on.
The Facebook page “Shawn Christy Political Prisoner,” which is run by his parents, has more than 4,000 members and is growing by the hour. There is an effort underway to raise defense funds by selling T-shirts and other Christy-related paraphernalia.
In a post Monday, Christy’s father urged his son to continue to be a “warrior.” “Hold your head high as you go to court, as you have been a warrior fighting injustice against you and spreading the word about the corruption that is slowing destroying all of us.”
Police said a number of people have been seen taking selfies in front of the Dumpster at the Skipper Dippers Dairy Bar and Grill in Hometown, where Christy was reportedly seen digging around for food several weeks ago.
One Facebook post proclaims Christy as the “all-time hide-and-seek champion,” while another criticizes him for his many crimes and for causing enormous amounts of taxpayer funds to be spent searching, apprehending and prosecuting him.
What causes people to sympathize with potentially dangerous criminals such as Christy? Several professionals with whom I spoke gave these prime reasons: They see him as a victim of governmental and law enforcement injustice; they believe he is being set up by the establishment; he is making a political statement by sacrificing his life for his political beliefs; he does things average people would love to try once in a while, if only they had the courage, and his headline-grabbing antics provide entertainment, suspense and drama, such as the 1995 O.J. Simpson trial.
Maybe, but I suspect that there are a lot more people who see Christy for who he really is: a paranoid and narcissistic young man who misguidedly feels that just about everyone is conspiring to get him and bring him down.
By Bruce Frassinelli | firstname.lastname@example.org