The Secret Service is investigating after a photo depicting a group of teenagers holding a bullet hole-ridden T-shirt with President Barack Obama's face on it was posted to an Arizona police officer's Facebook account.
The photo shows seven young men, four of them holding weapons, posing with a T-shirt featuring the Obama "HOPE" image. The shirt is covered in what appear to be bullet holes. The photo was posted to Peoria Police Sgt. Pat Shearer's Facebook page on Jan. 20 with the comment "Another trip to the ranch," the New York Times reported.
“We’re aware of it, and we’re conducting the appropriate follow-up steps,” Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan told the Times. He said individuals have a right to free speech, "but we certainly have a right to speak to individuals to see what their intent is."
The Peoria Police Department is mounting its own probe into Shearer's activities, Peoria police spokesman Jay Davies told local CBS affiliate KPHO-TV.
"We have a social media policy that addresses employee conduct with respect of the use of social media," Davies told the station, which includes not "posting information regarding off-duty activity that may tend to bring an officer's reputation into question."
But Shearer told Phoenix ABC affiliate KNXV-TV he doesn't see anything wrong with the photo.
“I don’t think that the shooting of that T-shirt is that big of a deal,” he told the station. “It was more of a political statement, it's not like they were going to go out and shoot the president, no."
The Peoria school district is investigating as well, working to identify the students involved, according to the Times.
Shearer has removed the photo from his Facebook page.