RealNews

Jury Hears Farmer's Warning in Standoff

Park Police Acted Cautiously After Threat to Detonate a Bomb. Tobacco farmer Dwight W. Watson warned federal authorities that he had a bomb on his tractor during a 47-hour siege on the Mall in March, saying, “we are going to see the smoke” if they didn’t back off, a federal jury was told yesterday. Watson, who talked with police by cell phone during the standoff, threatened to detonate a bomb or start shooting if authorities approached his tractor. The conversations were tape-recorded and played for the jury yesterday, as Watson went on trial in U.S. District Court on felony charges. The tapes offer new perspective into the decision by U.S. Park Police and other federal authorities to treat the tobacco farmer from North Carolina with extreme caution. They closed nearby streets to traffic, shut down some government offices and eventually negotiated a peaceful surrender. In one conversation, Watson, a veteran of the 82nd Airborne Division, told a Park Police sergeant that he wanted to talk with former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura. “He’s my hero, man,” Watson declared. “He’s a Navy SEAL. . . . But I got to talk to him on national TV live. I ain’t going to talk to him just on the phone.” Full Story

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