Christian militia group charged with plotting to kill police, spark revolt

DETROIT — Nine alleged members of a right-wing Christian militia group that was girding for battle with the Antichrist were charged Monday with plotting to kill a police officer and slaughter scores more by bombing the funeral — all in hopes of touching off an uprising against the U.S. government.

Michigan State Police exit a tank at their staging area

Michigan State Police exit a tank at their staging area

DETROIT — Nine alleged members of a right-wing Christian militia group that was girding for battle with the Antichrist were charged Monday with plotting to kill a police officer and slaughter scores more by bombing the funeral — all in hopes of touching off an uprising against the U.S. government.

Seven men and one woman believed to be part of the Michigan-based Hutaree militia were arrested over the weekend in raids in Michigan, Indiana and Ohio. The ninth suspect was arrested Monday night after a search in rural southern Michigan.

FBI agents moved quickly against Hutaree because its members were planning an attack sometime in April, prosecutors said. Authorities seized guns in the raids but would not say whether they found explosives.

The arrests have dealt “a severe blow to a dangerous organization that today stands accused of conspiring to levy war against the United States,” Attorney General Eric Holder said.

Authorities said the arrests underscored the dangers of homegrown right-wing extremism of the sort seen in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people.

In an indictment, prosecutors said the group began military-style training in the Michigan woods in 2008, learning how to shoot guns and make and set off bombs.

David Brian Stone, 44, of Clayton, Michigan, and one of his sons were identified as ringleaders of the group. Stone, who was known as “Captain Hutaree,” organized the group in paramilitary fashion and members were assigned secret names, prosecutors said. Ranks ranged from “radoks” to “gunners,” according to the group’s Web site.

“It started out as a Christian thing,” Stone’s ex-wife, Donna Stone, told The Associated Press. “You go to church. You pray. You take care of your family. I think David started to take it a little too far.”

Donna Stone said her ex-husband pulled her son into the movement. Another of David Stone’s sons was arrested Monday night about 30 miles (50 kilometres) from the site of the weekend raid at a home where he was found with five other adults and a child.

Joshua Matthew Stone surrendered about 8 p.m., said Andrew Arena, head of the FBI’s field office in Detroit. Stone’s friends and relatives had recorded messages, urging him to surrender, that the FBI played over loudspeakers outside the home before he and the others came out willingly, Arena said.

“We’re guessing he’s been in there at least a day,” Arena said.

Arena said the other adults at the home were taken into custody and will be interviewed. A determination will be made later about whether they might face charges, he said. The child was 1 or 2 years old, Arena said.

Other details, including whether those in the house had weapons or were affiliated with Hutaree, weren’t immediately released.

Prosecutors said David Stone had identified certain law enforcement officers near his home as potential targets. He and other members discussed setting off bombs at a police funeral, using a fake emergency call to lure an officer to his death, killing an officer after a traffic stop, or attacking the family of an officer, according to the indictment.

After such attacks, the group allegedly planned to retreat to “rally points” protected by trip-wired explosives for a violent standoff with the law.

“It is believed by the Hutaree that this engagement would then serve as a catalyst for a more widespread uprising against the government,” the indictment said.

The charges against the eight include seditious conspiracy — plotting to levy war against the U.S. — possessing a firearm during a crime of violence, teaching the use of explosives, and attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction — homemade bombs.

Hutaree says on its Web site its name means “Christian warrior” and describes the word as part of a secret language few are privileged to know. The group quotes several Bible passages and declares: “We believe that one day, as prophecy says, there will be an Anti-Christ. … Jesus wanted us to be ready to defend ourselves using the sword and stay alive using equipment.”

The nature of the organization’s alleged grudge against law enforcement and the government was unclear. The Web site does not list specific grievances.

The site features a picture of 17 men in camouflage, all holding large guns, and includes videos of armed men running through the woods. Each wears a shoulder patch that bears a cross and two red spears.

David Cid, executive director of the Oklahoma City-based Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism, said there has been a resurgence in the past year or two of “domestic militancy” similar to what was seen before the Oklahoma City bombing.

“It’s issues like eminent domain and immigration, and apparently national health care in some quarters,” said Cid, a former FBI counterterrorism agent. “It’s increasing these people’s ire and their discomfort with their own government.”

The wife of one of the defendants described Hutaree as a small group of patriotic, Christian buddies who were just doing survival training.

“It consisted of a dad and two of his sons and I think just a couple other close friends of theirs,” said Kelly Sickles, who husband, Kristopher, was among those charged. “It was supposed to be a Christian group. Christ-like, right, so why would you think that’s something wrong with that, right?”

Sickles said she came home Saturday night to find her house in Sandusky, Ohio, in disarray. Agents seized the guns her husband collected as a hobby and searched for bomb-making materials, she said, but added: “He doesn’t even know how to make a bomb. We had no bomb material here.”

She said she couldn’t believe her 27-year-old husband could be involved in anything violent.

“It was just survival skills,” she said. “That’s what they were learning. And it’s just patriotism. It’s in our Constitution.”

One of the defendants expressed anti-tax views during his Monday court hearing.

Thomas W. Piatek, a truck driver from Whiting, Ind., told a federal judge he could not afford an attorney because he was “getting raped on property taxes.”

The mother of another defendant, 33-year-old Jacob Ward, told police in Huron, Ohio, last summer that family members took away his two guns — an AK-47 rifle and a semiautomatic pistol — because she thought he needed mental health treatment.

Ward told police he needed to protect himself from members of a crime family that was keeping him from his girlfriend, according to Huron police records obtained by the AP. He also said he was going to meet with the CIA.

Seven of the defendants in court in Michigan asked to be represented by public defenders. The eighth had a public defender appointed in Indiana.

———

Devlin Barrett reported from Washington. Associated Press writers John Seewer in Wheatland Township, Michigan; Meghan Barr in Sandusky, Ohio; David Aguilar and Jeff Karoub in Detroit; and Mike Householder in Adrian, Michigan; and Don Babwin in Chicago contributed to this report.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A vial of the Medicago vaccine sits on a surface. CARe Clinic, located in Red Deer, has been selected to participate in the third phase of vaccine study. (Photo courtesy www.medicago.com)
Red Deer clinical research centre participating in plant-based COVID-19 vaccine trial

A Red Deer research centre has been selected to participate in the… Continue reading

Asymptomatic testing will now be available for "priority groups" who are most likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable or at-risk populations. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS
Red Deer jumps to 449 active COVID-19 cases on Sunday

1,516 new cases identified in Alberta

The QEII was closed Sunday morning due to a pole fire. (Photo courtesy City of Red Deer)
UPDATE: QEII near Red Deer reopens

The QEII has been reopened after being closed due to a pole… Continue reading

Innisfail RCMP are investigating a single-vehicle crash that happened west of Bowden on March 21, 2021. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Bashaw RCMP investigate fatal collision in central Alberta

Bashaw RCMP are investigating after a fatal collision Saturday afternoon. Police were… Continue reading

A damaged unicorn statue is shown in a field outside of Delia, Alta. in this undated handout photo. It's not often police can report that a unicorn has been found, but it was the truth Saturday when RCMP said a stolen, stainless-steel statue of the mythical beast had been located in a field not far from where he'd been taken. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Mounties get their unicorn; stolen statue of mythical beast found in Alberta field

DELIA, Alta. — It’s not often police can report that a unicorn… Continue reading

Investigators from the Vancouver Police Department were in Chilliwack Saturday, collecting evidence connected to a double homicide. (file photo)
Police investigate shooting death of man outside downtown Vancouver restaurant

Vancouver police say one man was killed in what they believe was… Continue reading

Dr. E. Kwok administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a recipient at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start registering people 18 years and older for COVID-19 vaccines

VICTORIA — The British Columbia government says it’s inviting people 18 years… Continue reading

San Jose's Tomas Hertl, center, celebrates with teammates Patrick Marleau, left, and Rudolfs Blacers, right, after Hertl scored a goal during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Minnesota Wild, Friday, April 16, 2021, in St. Paul, Minn. (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)
Patrick Marleau set to break Gordie Howe’s games record

For Patrick Marleau, the best part about Monday night when he is… Continue reading

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a press briefing at the White House, Tuesday, April 13, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Half of U.S. adults have received at least one COVID-19 shot

WASHINGTON — Half of all adults in the U.S. have received at… Continue reading

People are shown at a COVID-19 vaccination site in Montreal, Sunday, April 18, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Federal government to send health-care workers to Ontario, Trudeau says

MONTREAL — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says federal departments and some Canadian… Continue reading

People cross a busy street in the shopping district of Flushing on Tuesday, March 30, 2021, in the Queens borough of New York. Access to the COVID-19 vaccine in the United States is growing by the day. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kathy Willens
Despite COVID-19 vaccines, Americans in D.C. not feeling celebratory — or charitable

WASHINGTON — This might make Canadians jealous of their American cousins for… Continue reading

A man pays his respects at a roadside memorial in Portapique, N.S. on Thursday, April 23, 2021. RCMP say at least 22 people are dead after a man who at one point wore a police uniform and drove a mock-up cruiser, went on a murder rampage in Portapique and several other Nova Scotia communities. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Memorial service in Nova Scotia marks one year since mass shooting started

TRURO, N.S. — A memorial service is planned for today in central… Continue reading

In this April 23, 2016, photo, David Goethel sorts cod and haddock while fishing off the coast of New Hampshire. To Goethel, cod represents his identity, his ticket to middle class life, and his link to one the country's most historic industries, a fisherman who has caught New England's most recognized fish for more than 30 years. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
‘It’s more than just a fish:’ Scientists worry cod will never come back in N.L.

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — The latest assessment of Atlantic cod stocks, whose… Continue reading

Most Read