Former Arkansas State Highway Police officer pleads guilty to federal weapons charge

John William Vickers, 55

A retired Arkansas State Highway Police officer appeared in cuffs and shackles for a plea hearing Friday morning in a federal court in downtown Texarkana.

John William Vickers, 55, of Prescott, Ark., was arrested Oct. 26 by Hempstead County authorities for terroristic threatening after posting threats of violence to specific members of area law enforcement on Facebook. Agents who searched Vickers’ home the same day confiscated a 20 gauge shotgun, a pistol and various types of ammunition, according to a federal complaint filed last year by Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Special Agent Edwin Starr.

Vickers was prohibited from possessing firearms in an April 2015 protective order sought by a spouse or intimate partner in Ouachita County, Ark. The protective order’s firearm prohibition allowed federal officials to charge Vickers with the weapons charge.

The Facebook posts which led to Vickers’ arrest included: “poor babies will not have life much longer according to God. He said to kill everyone.” Vickers referred to someone in one post as “a dead man and I can damn sure make it happen!” and “BOOM BOOM BOOM!!!!” Vickers wrote of himself in the third person, and he went on to post “planning on 37 of you dying very soon …God said ‘Yes, it’s his time to kill,'” and “between Hope and Texarkana will for 100% a fact be the very most dangerous place on Planet Earth,” the complaint states.

Vickers stood before U.S. District Judge Susan Hickey Friday with Texarkana lawyer Craig Henry and pleaded guilty to the charge. His case will be scheduled for sentencing once federal probation officials have completed a report including a recommendation for punishment.

Vickers is facing the possibility of up to 10 years in federal prison, a fine up to $250,000, or both, at sentencing.

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