Man Arrested Outside Obama's Hotel With Large Knife

Thursday, July 5th 2007, 7:03 am
By: News On 6

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) _ A man with a large knife was arrested Wednesday outside presidential hopeful Barack Obama's hotel in southeast Iowa, police said.

Davit Zakaryan, 24, was searched and apprehended after Obama's security crew allegedly saw him loitering outside a Fairfield Inn in Ottumwa before the Illinois senator was about to leave for a busy day of campaigning.

Police said they did not know why Zakaryan was outside the hotel with the knife, and they cautioned against making any assumptions until he was questioned further.

``This is not an earth-shattering'' arrest, Lt. Mike McDonough of the Ottumwa Police Department said. ``He made no threats toward the senator.''

Zakaryan was arrested after 8:30 a.m. and charged with possessing an illegal weapon and driving without a license. Police said the knife was longer than 8 inches, which exceeds the state limit. Zakaryan was being held Wednesday night at the Wapello County Jail on a $6,825 bond. He was to be arraigned Thursday morning.

A call to Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor was not immediately returned Wednesday night.

McDonough said Obama's security crew had been keeping an eye on Zakaryan because they thought his car looked familiar and may have been at another of Obama's campaign stops. After Zakaryan pulled the car near the hotel, the agents asked police to question him. That's when they found the knife inside the car, McDonough said.

McDonough said the identification card Zakaryan gave them showed he was from Ohio, but they weren't sure whether the ID was valid. McDonough said he was not sure what Ohio city was listed on the card.

Obama, a Democrat, has spent much of his time campaigning in Iowa the past few months, trying to build support for the state's leadoff caucuses in January. In May, Secret Service announced it would provide protection for Obama while he was campaigning.

On Wednesday, Obama made stops in Oskaloosa, Pella and Des Moines, participating in July 4 celebrations and visiting with activists.