LAS VEGAS (CBSNewYork/AP) — A Phoenix woman accused of throwing a shoe some 60 feet toward Hillary Rodham Clinton appeared aware during questioning by U.S. Secret Service agents of the allegation against her, authorities said Friday.
Alison Michelle Ernst, 36, was given a misdemeanor disorderly conduct summons and freed after she was booked at the Clark County jail, according to a Las Vegas police arrest report.
“Ms. Ernst appeared to be in an agitated state but aware of what she had just done,” the report said.
Ernst could face up to a year in the county lockup if she is convicted of violating a county ordinance during the Thursday incident at a convention at the Mandalay Bay hotel-casino.
She is accused of bypassing security and walking quickly toward a rope line about six rows from the front of a conference audience. Police say she reached into a purse, removed the shoe and threw it overhand toward the stage.
The incident happened moments after Clinton took the stage before an Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries meeting.
Clinton, a former U.S. senator from New York and a Chappaqua resident, ducked and was not struck.
She then joked about it.
“Is that somebody throwing something at me? Is that part of Cirque de Soleil?” Clinton quipped.
Many in the audience of more than 1,000 people in a large ballroom laughed and applauded as Clinton, a potential Democratic presidential candidate in 2016, resumed her speech.
“My goodness, I didn’t know that solid waste management was so controversial,” Clinton said. “Thank goodness she didn’t play softball like I did.”
Ernst was ushered by security guards out of the ballroom with her hands in the air and sat calmly afterward on a sofa in a hallway. She wore a blonde wig, blue dress and thong sandals.
She told an Associated Press reporter she threw a shoe and dropped some papers but did not identify herself or explain the action. Security officers ushered reporters and photographers away.
A jail booking photo, taken later, shows Ernst with short brown hair.
She couldn’t immediately be reached Friday. It wasn’t clear if she had a lawyer.
Brian Spellacy, Secret Service supervisory special agent in Las Vegas, said an orange and black athletic shoe was recovered from the stage.
Clinton has Secret Service protection because former presidents and their spouses are covered for their lifetime, Spellacy said.
Authorities said Ernst wasn’t a credentialed conference attendee and wasn’t supposed to have been in the ballroom, which had more than 1,000 people.
Audience members wore large conference identification badges and were asked to present photo identification for entry to Clinton’s speech.
Clinton has been traveling the country giving paid speeches to industry organizations and Democratic Party groups. She said in San Francisco on Tuesday that she was seriously considering a presidential bid.
The shoe-throwing incident reminded some of former President George W. Bush dodging shoes thrown by an Iraqi journalist during a news conference in Baghdad in December 2008. Shoe-throwing is considered an insult in Arab cultures.
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