GRAIN VALLEY, Mo. -- Authorities are investigating after a dummy bearing a President Obama face mask was found hanging from the Lefholz Bridge over I-70 near Grain Valley, Mo. The bridge is located between Oak Grove and Grain Valley.
Police received the report around 5:30 a.m. Monday. Crews, using a robot, removed the dummy and took it into a nearby field where it was x-rayed for possible explosives.
"The item that we had, we thought possibly could have been explosive, so we went ahead and shut down I-70 is both directions to ensure that if it was explosive there was nothing that was going to cause a hazard to any passerbys, and once we removed that from the scene we opened up I-70 almost immediately," Sgt. Ronda Montgomery said.
There are now a lot of unanswered questions. Police don’t know who hung the dummy with a mask of President Obama or why it was done. The only thing investigators know for sure is this incident is being taken very seriously.
“The Dummy did have a presidential mask of President Obama, not sure what it means until we put the pieces together to see if it's a credible threat,” Sgt. Montgomery said.
While the Secret Service investigates threats against the president, former FBI agent Jeff Lanza said law enforcement officers may not know the motivation behind this incident, but he says it won't be taken lightly.
“Most of those things are not going to be serious, but you can't take a chance, so what they'll try to do is figure out who put it there, and if they can trace it back to the person responsible then they can see if it's a credible threat or not,” Lanza said.
University of Missouri-Kansas City political science professor Max Skidmore said America has a long history of hate and he says this is an unfortunate example.
“You're never going to eliminate hate and you don't want to eliminate political dissent, ‘cause that's part of the system," Skidmore said. "Condemning the president, condemning the government is a long and honorable tradition, but threatening is another issue."
Skidmore says any threat against the president, regardless of the intent, is a serious matter.
“It's some person who is simply vicious and whose hatred overwhelms what little good sense he or she may have,” he said.
Police are asking for the public's help to solve this case. If you witnessed someone on the bridge Monday morning you're urged to call the sheriff’s office at (816) 542-4302.