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St. Louis man charged with making threats in outburst at city polling site

St. Louis man charged with making threats in outburst at city polling site

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Friendly Temple Accident

A voter walks toward the sidewalk after learning that polling at Friendly Temple Church was relocated to another site on Tuesday, March 10, 2020, in north St. Louis. Photo by Rachel Ellis. rellis@post-dispatch.com.

ST. LOUIS — Prosecutors on Thursday charged a St. Louis man with backing his truck into a polling place during Tuesday’s presidential primary, then entering the building and yelling threats.

James A. Rowell, 62, was charged with a felony count of making a terrorist threat and two counts of committing election offenses.

According to witnesses and charges, Rowell used his truck to back into the Friendly Temple Church in the 5500 block of Martin Luther King Drive. Witnesses said he began throwing tables and chairs, and poured water on workers and voting machines.

Friendly Temple Accident

A man backed into the railing with his truck at Friendly Temple Church on Tuesday, March 10, 2020, in north St. Louis. The railing went through the wall to the inside. Photo by Rachel Ellis. rellis@post-dispatch.com.

A witness told police that once inside, Rowell yelled, “Ain’t nobody voting here today! I have the ability to kill everyone!”

Poll workers told police Rowell damaged two electronic voting machines, rendering them inoperable and prompting officials to suspend voting there.

The man’s truck caused minor damage, smashing part of the railing and dislodging part of a brick wall, an election official told the Post-Dispatch.

Police arrived and took Rowell into custody. Charges said Rowell caused damage exceeding $1,000. Charging documents did not indicate a motive for the outburst.

Friendly Temple Accident

Election Judge Charles Hickerson, 74, of Florissant, sits in a chair inside of Friendly Temple Church on Tuesday, March 10, 2020, in north St. Louis. Behind him is the kitchen where he and seven other people had to barricade themselves when a man came inside and started flipping tables and chairs on Election Day. Photo by Rachel Ellis. rellis@post-dispatch.com.

The polling place was moved to Pierre Laclede Junior Career Academy, 5821 Kennerly Avenue, about a mile away in the Wells-Goodfellow neighborhood.

Court documents did not say if he has a lawyer.

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