Sheriff says men were frightening and determined

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC-TV) - Haywood County sheriff Melvin Bond described the two men arrested in the assassination plot against presidential candidate Barack Obama as very frightening and determined.

In their MySpace photographs, Daniel Cowart of Bells, Tennessee, and Paul Schlesselman of West Helena, Arkansas, look like soldiers in some kind of twisted army.

Bond said the two self-proclaimed white supremacists were cold and direct when questioned.

"They are stern, still-faced. Just answered whatever you want to know and their words... they knew the consequences. They didn't care if it means dying. They were ready to die."

Bond said the men's plot to embark on a killing spree and assassinate Sen. Obama was foiled when deputies received a call that someone had fired a gun into an empty church.

Several hours later, investigators got a call from a worried mother who said that her daughter, Cowart's girlfriend, had acted as the getaway driver for a planned home invasion.

Bond said the young woman was afraid because she knew about the shooting at the church, and the two men had shown her a weapon when they told her to drive the getaway car in the robbery, which never happened.

Bond said the girl told investigators Cowart had a swastika painted on his car, and he and Schlesselman were driving around in predominately black neighborhoods.

"Trying to make blacks be angry where they could confront them with violence," Bond said.

Bond said that despite the men being behind bars, Cowart's girlfriend remains very frightened because she thinks more people are involved in the plot.

Bond said Cowart and Schlessleman were armed when federal agents arrested them .

Both men have a hearing scheduled at the federal building in Memphis on Thursday.

Click here to e-mail Janice Broach.