Secret Service pays Riverhead banjo player a visit after on-air comment

SAMANTHA BRIX FILE PHOTO | Warren McKnight of Riverhead took his banjo to Occupy Wall Street at Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan in October. On Wednesday he got a visit from the Secret Service.

When you hear the name Warren McKnight, you probably think “banjo player.” Or maybe you think of his scraggly beard, or that he is a former town Conservative party leader who has run for town supervisor in the past.

Maybe you even remember the old music store he used to own in Wading River.

But “Assassin?”

Apparently the U.S. Secret Service thought so — at least until they visited him.

The 63-year-old Riverhead resident, who regularly calls in and chats politics with Bruce Tria on WRIV 1390 in the morning, was involved in a discussion about President Obama Wednesday morning and said something to the effect that “presidents who show some initiative get assassinated.”

Big mistake.

Mr. McKnight said that two agents from the Secret Service showed up at his home at about 2 p.m. Wednesday and wanted to talk to him about his comments.

“They asked if I had any weapons in the house,” he said. “I have three banjos. They asked who all my neighbors were, and they asked for the phone numbers of all my children.”

He said he even signed a piece of paper saying he had no mental problems.

Mr. McKnight said someone obviously was unhappy with what he said on the radio and reported it.

“The agents talked about a small AM radio station,” he said. “They told me don’t mention the word assassination on the air or even in bars,” said Mr. McKnight, who is recovering from bypass surgery.

Mr. McKnight, in an interview Wednesday night,  clarified that he said he didn’t think Mr. Obama was showing much initiative.

He has no idea who reported him, but the agents left after about a half hour, and didn’t charge him with any crimes.

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