‘Hope he gets help’

Published 10:44 pm Thursday, April 10, 2014

Decorated vet charged with threatening the president

A clearer picture is beginning to emerge about the Suffolk man authorities say threatened the life of President Barack Obama and former first lady and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

David Gil Wilkinson, 43, was indicted by a federal grand jury and remanded to the Bureau of Federal Prisons for psychiatric evaluation. He’s a retired Special Forces Navy Chief and faces 10 years in prison if convicted, according to Dana J. Boente, acting U.S. District Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.

A brick home owned by Wilkinson and his estranged wife, in an upscale neighborhood off North Suffolk’s Sleepy Hole Road, is being rented out, neighbor Steve Barnum said. The city assessor’s office lists a mailing address for the $314,300 assessment as an apartment in Owings Mills, Md.

Suffolk’s David Gil Wilkinson meets then-presidential candidate Mitt Romney in this photo posted on Wilkinson’s Facebook page on Oct. 17, 2012. Wilkinson, now retired from the U.S. Navy, has been charged with threatening the life of President Barack Obama.

Suffolk’s David Gil Wilkinson meets then-presidential candidate Mitt Romney in this photo posted on Wilkinson’s Facebook page on Oct. 17, 2012. Wilkinson, now retired from the U.S. Navy, has been charged with threatening the life of President Barack Obama.

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Barnum said Wilkinson has been riding his motorcycle and enjoying his retirement since leaving the Navy last year.

“This seems out of character for him,” Barnum said, though he admitted he didn’t know his former neighbor well. “If it’s true, I hope he gets the help he needs.”

Though Wilkinson doesn’t espouse any views on killing the president on his public Facebook profile — which mostly includes photos of himself with his motorcycle — one comment on a photo of him meeting Mitt Romney during the 2012 presidential campaign made it clear where he stands, politically speaking.

“I am proud to say I met who I hope becomes our next president,” Wilkinson wrote. “He thanked me for my service. I said to him, ‘You have to win, my son just joined the military and I need you to take care of him.’ He looked me in the eye knowing I was not joking and said he would. I believe him. I encouraged both of my sons to join the military because I believe in service to country, but I expect the Commander-in-Chief to support them in whatever way necessary, so they don’t die senselessly like the four in Libya. We need Romney to win. Please share my post with everyone.”

In a comment he left under a photo of himself on a motorcycle, Wilkinson said, “If you see this guy and you are one of those liberal a— that would heckle a war hero like general Petraeus or any other military vet you should run. I don’t have patients for ignorant Americans that disrespect American military warriors that have risked there life’s and in some cases gave there life’s in s—holes all over the world so they have freedom.” (Grammar errors in original quote.)

He later adds, “My friends reading this are saying by now, Dave is off his rocker and I say, yes I am.”

In an email, Navy officials confirmed Wilkinson’s service from July 1987 to March 2013, during which time he served on board the USS Richard E. Byrd and the USS Nicholas, at Naval Station Charleston, and with the Special Warfare Training Units and East Coast Special Warfare Units.

He has 12 awards and decorations, including the Combat Action Ribbon, Navy Marine Corps Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and Kuwait Liberation Medal.

According to an affidavit filed March 27 in federal court, Wilkinson was stopped by sheriff’s deputies in Southampton County on March 21 after he called 911 and stated that “he was an FBI agent and had run out of fuel on Highway 58.”

The Southampton County Sheriff’s Office “had numerous reports that day of a vehicle matching Wilkinson’s description being driven at speeds over 100 mph,” according to the affidavit.

Deputies arriving on the scene questioned Wilkinson, who stated, according to court documents, that “he worked for important people, had just left Seal Team 6 and was going to personally throw out Obama and execute him and Hillary.”

Searching Wilkinson’s vehicle, deputies found $12,100 in cash, along with marijuana, drug paraphernalia, prescription medication and an empty pistol box. Further investigation revealed that the vehicle had been involved earlier in a hit-and-run accident in Suffolk.

When officers took Wilkinson into custody, he “brought the handcuffs from his back to his front and further broke the handle on the door to his holding room in order to prevent deputies from keeping him inside while awaiting transport to the hospital for an evaluation.”

The deputies had been wearing body cameras that recorded audio and video. The affidavit quotes him as saying he would “personally execute (Obama) and Hillary.” He made reference to Obama being responsible for the deaths of Navy SEALs.

According to the affidavit, Wilkinson told federal investigators on March 23 that he suffered from a traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder and major depression as a result of his military service.

After a 72-hour emergency committal order expired, Wilkinson was released from the Pavilion Behavioral Health Center in Williamsburg on March 24.

According to the affidavit, U.S. Secret Service Special Agent Brian E. Stallings received a call on March 25 from a Henrico County Police officer, who had stopped Wilkinson that afternoon on I-295 near the Staples Mill Road exit after observing him traveling at 100 mph on the highway.

Wilkinson had called Henrico communications at about 4:40 p.m. that day and “continued to update Henrico communications, along with making statements such as President Obama being out and that people needed to die, and he was part of a group that would take back America,” the court documents allege.

Wilkinson was apprehended, and police obtained another emergency committal order for him. He was taken to Henrico Doctor’s Hospital-Parham for evaluation.

Editor R.E. Spears III and staff writer Matthew A. Ward contributed to this story.