A Twin Falls man was arrested Wednesday after allegedly threatening a Muslim woman shopping at the city’s Walmart and telling her he had a concealed weapon.
John C. Larsen, 42, was arraigned Thursday on a charge of felony malicious harassment in Twin Falls County 5th District Court.
According to police, Larsen allegedly approached the woman, who had a traditional Muslim head covering and dress and was accompanied by her two children, in the store at about 11 a.m. Wednesday and asked if she was Muslim.
When the woman said she was, Larsen reportedly told her he spent 2 1/2 years in Iraq and “my friends were killed by you, I was blown up by you,” according to court records.
Twin Falls police said there is no place for prejudice in the community.
“This behavior cannot be condoned,” Lt. Craig Stotts said in a statement. “In the United States of America, as long as people are obeying the laws, they are allowed to go about their lives without being threatened for their religious beliefs or their ethnicity.”
Witnesses interviewed by police said that they heard Larsen yell at the woman, use profanities and make several references to his concealed weapon, according to court records. Larsen also allegedly yelled that the woman “didn’t belong here in the U.S.,” according to the court affidavit.
After the woman told Larsen her father had died for his country, he then allegedly screamed at her, asking why she’s Muslim, according to the affidavit.
Larsen also allegedly told the woman he had killed lots of Muslims and planned to kill more, court records state. The woman, when interviewed by police, told the officer she was scared of the threats.
When a police officer arrived at the store, Larsen was found in his vehicle, where he told police he had a handgun in its center console. After receiving permission from Larsen, the officer removed a Bond Arms, model Snake Slayer, two-shot pistol that was loaded with two shotgun shells and in a leather holster, according to the affidavit.
Larsen told the officer he didn’t have the weapon on him when he was inside the store, police said.
Larsen was in the TwinFalls County Jail on Thursday, with his bond set at $10,000. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Thursday this next week.
According to court records, he is unemployed.
Ben Botkin may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 735-3238.