PEORIA, Ga. – The US Secret Service is investigating an Arizona cop after he posted a photo online showing several teenagers with guns posing next to a bullet-ridden Barack Obama T-shirt.
Sgt. Pat Shearer also is being probed by Peoria Police Department after posting the photo of seven young men, four with guns, holding up a gunshot-marked T-shirt featuring an image of the US president above the word "hope," on Facebook.
The picture was posted Jan. 20, the week before the president's visit to Arizona, The Arizona Republic reported.
The Secret Service confirmed it was looking into the photo Thursday, with a spokesman telling KNXV-TV that although the individuals involved have a right to free speech, the agency also has a right to question them.
However Shearer -- who has worked for the police department in the Phoenix suburb for at least 14 years -- believes the incident is being blown out of proportion.
"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."
He admitted he was embarrassed by the photo and added he would risk his own life for the president's.
Jay Davies, a spokesman for Peoria Police Department, said the internal probe was prompted after the department heard the Secret Service was investigating, according to The Arizona Republic.
"We were made aware of that situation today [Thursday] and we have opened an administrative investigation to determine if there are any policy violations that took place," Davies said.