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More learned about man who threatened Gregoire

A man who says he was upset over losing state benefits has been arrested and charged with making threats against Governor Chris Gregoire and her family. 51-year-old Robert Ray Locke was arraigned on one count of felony threat and pleaded not guilty.

Here's what the court file says. A Pierce County man named Robert Ray Locke allegedly started contacting the Governor's office early Tuesday morning. He's accused of sending three electronic messages in four minutes.

The first one said "I hope you have the opportunity to see one of your family members raped and murdered by a sexual predator." The second message said: "You should be burned at the stake like any heretic." Next, the Governor's office received an event request form for "Gregoire's Public Execution."

Ken Harkcom with the Washington State Patrol says this crosses a line:

"There's people that voice their opinion strongly and then there's some people that take it too far and actually make threats."

The State Patrol says it was able to trace the messages and arrest Locke within six hours. According to court documents, he told detectives he was upset that his DSHS benefits were being cut and apologized for what he called his "temper" and "poor judgment."

According to the Pierce County Prosecutor's office, Locke's bail was set at $500,000. He was ordered to have no contact with the Governor, her family or staff and is prohibited from being within 1,000 feet of the governor's residence.

The State Patrol says no weapons were found when they arrested Locke. They also see no connection between this case and the recent shootings in Tucson.

Even before this case, there was a noticeable change to security in the Governor's office. A State Patrol cadet is now more visibly posted in the lobby. Previously, the security desk was positioned out of view of the main doors.

Recent History of Threats to State Political Leaders


Earlier this month, a California man was arrested for allegedly making threatening phone calls to Congressman Jim McDermott. Last year, a Yakima County man was sentenced to a year in prison for threatening to kill U.S. Senator Patty Murray over her support of the health care reform legislation. 

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy as well as the Washington State legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia." Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin worked as a television reporter in Seattle, Portland and Boise. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Austin’s reporting has been recognized with awards from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Society of Professional Journalists.