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Leroy Schaffer, Minnesota Councilman, Sent Self Fake Grenade To Earn Sympathy

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The erratic career of a city councilman from St. Francis, Minnesota ended Thursday, after Leroy Schaffer resigned over a much-exaggerated threat.

Schaffer was cited with filing a false police report after telling authorities that he'd been sent a bomb in the mail. The sender, investigators claim, was Schaffer himself.

KARE, the Minneapolis-St. Paul NBC affiliate, explains that Schaffer called the police on July 1 to report that he'd received a suspicious package. A police officer came to the scene, but refused to open the package in case it contained something dangerous. Schaffer then ripped it open himself, revealing what appeared to be a hand grenade, as well as a note saying, "The next one will be real."

When investigators went into Schaffer's house, they found a sheet of address labels from the Paralyzed Veterans of America, missing exactly one label. An identical one was found on the envelope containing the supposed grenade, which turned out to be a novelty item.

According to the AP, when Schaffer was interviewed by police, he admitted to driving to Chicago and mailing the fake bomb to himself, in an attempt to "gain sympathy from the public."

"There's a lot of people out there that want to kill me, that's why I sent it to myself," he reportedly said, according to a report in the Star-Tribune.

That paper also explains why he might have needed sympathy in the first place:

His 4 1/2-year tenure has been marked by controversy. He was censured three times by the City Council, twice for conduct around women and once over a confrontation with the city's public works director. A fourth censure resolution had been on Tuesday's council agenda, after Schaffer asked Metropolitan Council representative Edward Reynoso if he was Latino and low income, and over complaints from two women who claimed that he repeatedly asked them to go out with him, which he denied. The resolution was tabled indefinitely after Friday's incident.

Schaffer also has drawn fire for his public comments about women, Hispanics and blacks in the town. City staff members complained that his mailings to residents cost the city in staff time and postage as they sought to correct sometimes erroneous or misleading information that the mailings contained.

Schaffer tendered his resignation Thursday afternoon. He was issued a misdemeanor citation for the false police report.

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