Yakima County sheriff opens up about death threat

Yakima County sheriff opens up about death threat
YAKIMA COUNTY, Wash. -- "To the Sheriff." That's how the e-mail began. There was nothing cordial after that.

A threat to kill the Sheriff. Another threat to County Assessor Dave Cook. And a link to a graphic YouTube video justifying cop-killing.

A message from someone claiming he helped bring down part of the World Trade Center and damaged the Pentagon.

"When you receive something like that, you step back and you fear for your own safety and that of your family," said Sheriff Ken Irwin.

Deputies say Raymond Eric Zahler sent the note. He's been in and out of the court system for years, for threatening police, court officials and civil servants. Officers arrested him Wednesday and he remains in jail.

Zahler faces charges of felony harassment and intimidating a public servant. The maximum penalty for both crimes together is 15 years in jail and/or a $30,000 in fines. Sheriff Irwin says threats like these are not common.

"I don't recall one like this. You get people that are unhappy with things, but not direct threats."

Irwin says he won't comment on Zahler's state of mind. But, says the rage on display in the message needs to be controlled.

"It's somebody that's angry and very angry outside of social norms and I hope he gets the help that he needs."

As for the death threat, Sheriff Irwin says all he can do is move forward, be careful and take it in stride.