Clinton shoe thrower has history of strange behavior, family says


by Karen Brown

Bio | Email | Follow: @KarenBrown3TV

Posted on April 12, 2014 at 11:49 AM

Updated Saturday, Apr 12 at 12:00 PM

PHOENIX -- The world is taking a closer look at the Phoenix woman who threw a shoe at Hillary Clinton during a Las Vegas speech Thursday.

Alison Michelle Ernst, 36, threw a soccer cleat at the former Secretary of State during a conference on waste management at the Mandalay Bay resort. She also threw papers about Department of Defense activities from the 1960s in Bolivia.

Ernst, who wore a blonde wig when she threw the shoe, was questioned by Secret Service officers before being released Friday, receiving a misdemeanor disorderly conduct summons.

People who knew Ernst over the last decade told 3TV she had a history of erratic behavior, mental health issues and belief in bizarre conspiracy theories. She had made a public outburst before in Colorado, where authorities said she disrupted a hearing for James Holmes, the Aurora theater shooting suspect, back in 2012.

Elmira Gittens, the grandmother of Ernst’s two young children, said her former daughter-in-law has a history of strange behavior, but she was still stunned to learn about the incident in Las Vegas.

"I really don’t know how to explain that," Gittens told 3TV.

One Phoenix man, Ernesto Arias, said that after her second divorce, Ernst lived with his family in west Phoenix until a few years ago. The family says she was on medication, and Arias added that she was very political about things outside the U.S.

"Yeah, she did have some (mental health) issues," Arias said.

3TV learned that Ernst had returned to the Valley in the last six months to see her sons, ages 9 and 10.