The Pennsylvania couple who cared for a 23-year-old Ukrainian national who posed as a high school student under a false identity told reporters Wednesday they contacted federal authorities in November 2015 after he started to make threats about hurting teachers and fellow classmates.
Stephayne and Michael Potts spoke to the media for the first time since Artur Samarin was arrested, according to WPMT-TV. Samarin was known in Harrisburg as Asher Potts and was arrested on Feb. 23.
Stephayne Potts told reporters she called the FBI because she was worried that Samarin was going to hurt people at Harrisburg High School.
“He made comments about other shootings, and he told us that everyone would know his name. He said his name would be the biggest in the world,” she said. “He started talking about certain kids in school he wanted to hurt. He started talking about blowing he school up.”
Adam Klein, Samarin’s attorney, refuted the Potts’ comments. He said there was nothing to believe that Samarin had a violent past.
“Up until the time he was arrested, he was an upstanding student,” Klein said. “She is trying to paint herself as the victim. One would only need to look at her criminal history to see she is a con artist.”
The Potts said they met Samarin in 2012 while he was in Harrisburg with other Ukrainian students as part of an international work program, WPMT-TV reported. Stephanye Potts said she had talked to him inside the Townhouse Apartments complex in Harrisburg where she and her husband were live and where Samarin was staying. Samarin told the couple he was getting beat up by fellow participants in the work program.
Stephayne Potts said she thought Samarin was 18 when she learned he was working at a Red Robin. But Samarin insisted that he was 14. In September of 2012, the Potts took in Samarin and he was enrolled in high school by October of that year. Stephayne Potts said she didn’t need any documents to get him into Harrisburg High School.
She admitted that she knew Samarin was in the country illegally, but insisted she had intended to legalize his status when he turned 18.
“I still don’t believe he’s 23,” she added. “Someone will have to prove that to me. We watched him go from high pitched tones to the way he speaks now. His show size, clothing size, he got taller as well.”
Samarin was a member of the National Honor Society and the school’s ROTC and Naval Sea Cadet programs. He was to graduate in June.
He was arrested in February and initially charged with theft, identity theft and records tampering. He is also facing a sexual assault charged over a relationship with a student.
The Potts have not been charged with any crimes.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.