Secret Service Hunts for Possible Assassin

The Secret Service is looking for an armed, mentally unstable upstate New York man in connection with a plot to kill President Bush and Sen. John Kerry.

The agency put out a "national lookout" yesterday for Lawrence Ward (search), a 57-year-old resident of Bainbridge, N.Y., who is said to have an obsession with guns, a history of violence and a hatred of the president.

A neighbor told authorities that Ward has a picture of the president in his home with the words "dead man" spray-painted near it. The neighbor also said Ward held "anti-government" positions and often spoke of "fighting the system."

Ward was last seen on Sept. 9 as he got into his blue 1997 Toyota with a lever-action shotgun (search), the neighbor said.

The alert said the car has New York license plate number BRF6546.

Before leaving, Ward had told neighbors that they could take anything they wanted from his North Main Street home, the Secret Service said.

That's when the neighbor saw the anti-Bush poster and discovered a threatening audio CD that mentioned both Bush and his Democratic challenger, Kerry.

The neighbor contacted local police, who shared the information with state and federal authorities.

Ward's ex-wife told cops that he was obsessed with weapons and Timothy McVeigh (search), the infamous Oklahoma City bomber. Ward is also said to be a big fan of the Stephen King book "The Dead Zone," which centers around a man stalking a presidential candidate.

Ward has a criminal record dating back to 1991 and has been arrested for an "indecent sexual proposal," the alert said.

The Secret Service believes Ward is in Wisconsin, based on a neighbor's tip.

Ward was described as 6-foot-3, 150 pounds with green eyes and brown hair. He is missing part of his right ear.

Residents of North Main Street in Bainbridge, a town near Binghamton (search), knew little about their reclusive neighbor.

"The only thing I know about him is that he's gone!" said Marilyn Eggleston, who lives two houses away.

"And it must run in the family, because his son mows my lawn — and three weeks ago, he asked to be paid in advance, and he never came back. Haven't seen him since."