In a tense turn of events, Tucson’s Casino del Sol found itself at the crux of a potentially lethal threat. Amidst the clattering of slot machines and the murmur of hopeful patrons, the specter of violence loomed as authorities apprehended a man accused of menacing the establishment with a mass shooting.
The man in question, Michael McClernon, found himself ensnared by the law on counts of serious criminal conduct, specifically for a harrowing phone call placed in late September. In this call, delivered with grave foreboding to the tribal police, McClernon allegedly voiced his plan to charge his vehicle into the bustling entrance of the casino and open fire upon its occupants.
Fogged by the haze of his own memory, McClernon confronted his accusation with a claim of forgetfulness, unable to recall the ominous threat he purportedly made. Yet, in a candid acknowledgment, he conceded such words could have passed his lips in a bout of rage over an unspecified incident during a previous arrest at the same casino.
Held now in the grip of the federal justice system, McClernon’s charge reads as a dire warning: a willful communication of a threat to inflict injury, transmitted via telephone. Should the gavel fall heavy against him, he could face as many as five years within prison’s unyielding walls.
Despite being barred from the premises, with his likeness peppered throughout the casino as a caution to all, McClernon eluded capture for an extended time. His unwitting return to the casino’s RV park would be his undoing, as a sharp-eyed employee, with a memory for faces and a duty to uphold, alerted authorities.
Threats of violence, particularly aimed at places of communal gathering like casinos, trigger quick and intense responses from law enforcement. A history of similar threats elsewhere underscores the severity, with arrests unfurling from bombastic braggadocio in Las Vegas to malevolent menaces in Louisiana and vindictive vows in Tampa.
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