Civil rights counts added in threats case



Federal prosecutors upped their ante in the case against a former Western Maryland police officer yesterday, tacking on new civil rights charges that accuse Jeffrey S. Shifler of threatening schoolchildren and a city councilwoman because they are black.

Shifler, the 41-year-old suspended officer from Maugansville, was arrested in February and charged with sending racist and homophobic letters to public officials and community leaders, and calling in an anthrax threat to City Hall in Hagerstown.

Authorities said during a court hearing last month that during a search of his home, they found newspaper clippings of sensational killings and a suicide note.

A picture of a local councilwoman was found next to a picture of a skull, they said. Prosecutors said in U.S. District Court in Baltimore that one document showed the locations of local black churches.

Prosecutors said it was feared that Shifler might have been planning a campaign of violence ending with his death.

Shifler was a police officer for 16 years in Hagerstown before being fired in 2003 for falsifying payroll records. He was most recently an officer in Boonsboro, also in Western Maryland.

According to the new charges filed yesterday, he threatened African-American students of North Hagerstown High School and South Hagerstown High when he called the Washington County Board of Education.

Using racially offensively language, he is purported to have said: "We have two guns at North High. We have two guns at South High. We're going to blow the [students] away."

In a separate call, authorities said, he telephoned Alesia Parson-McBean and left a message saying, in part, "Hi, Alesia. Please talk to us soon. We're the KKK. We're about to take you down and burn your house. The end is near ... so get prepared. We'll see you soon. Bye-bye."

Each new charge carries a maximum prison term of 10 years. Shifler remains in federal custody pending his trial.

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