An apparent security lapse enabled a convicted murderer to access Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s sentencing hearing last week where the individual made threatening remarks about the former Taliban prisoner, who has pleaded guilty to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy.

George Marecek, 85, was only a few feet from Bergdahl on Wednesday when he turned to another individual seated in the courtroom gallery and said: “I’ll be glad when this crap is over. I got my firing squad standing by.” Marecek’s comment was overheard by a Washington Post reporter. Bergdahl’s attorneys overheard Marecek make other threatening statements and alerted the prosecution, who in turn notified authorities.

The Army has refused to answer questions about the incident, which alarmed court officers and triggered a security alert at this sprawling military complex outside of Fayetteville, N.C., according to three people with direct knowledge of the matter. They spoke on the condition of anonymity citing the extreme sensitivity surrounding Bergdahl’s legal proceedings.