MILWAUKEE — A Wisconsin fugitive accused of stealing an arsenal of firearms and sending an anti-government manifesto to the White House was arrested Friday after a retired school counsellor found him camping on his property and calmly talked to the man before calling authorities.
The arrest of Joseph Allen Jakubowski settled fears among residents and law enforcement over what he might do with his stockpile of weapons and ammunition. In his manifesto, Jakubowski detailed a long list of grievances against the government and law enforcement, and threatened unspecified attacks.
Jakubowski appeared subdued during his initial federal court appearance Friday afternoon in Madison, speaking quietly with his attorney while wearing a dirty white T-shirt over a long-sleeve shirt and blue jeans. He will remain in federal custody as he faces a federal gun theft charge and several state felonies.
Acting U.S. Attorney Jeff Anderson said Jakubowski could be indicted on additional charges. His next federal court appearance is scheduled for April 25.
Tactical officers captured Jakubowski without incident around 6 a.m. after surrounding his campsite in a field near Readstown, said Jeffrey A. Gorn, the property owner who called authorities. Readstown is about 125 miles (200 kilometres) northwest of Janesville, where the manhunt for Jakubowski began on April 4.
Rock County Sheriff Robert Spoden described his campsite as primitive, consisting of only a tarp, and said Jakubowski looked disheveled and like he had not slept in some time.
Gorn told The Associated Press he was driving his four-wheeler on his property late Thursday night and checking his deer stands when he spotted a blue tarp and discovered a man camping on his land. Gorn said he didn’t realize it was Jakubowski, the 32-year-old target of an intense manhunt by at least 150 federal, state and local law enforcement officers for more than a week.
Gorn approached the tent fashioned from the tarp and asked if anyone was inside. Jakubowski came out.
“He said he was off the grid,” Gorn said. “And I told him you’re not too far off the grid. You’re on my grid.”
Gorn, 58, a former high school guidance counsellor, said he talked with Jakubowski for an hour.
“He seemed angry at the way he views society, how he believes money is controlling society,” Gorn said, adding that the man was “extremely cordial.”
“He never raised his voice, never showed any sign of doing anything inappropriate. I shook his hand twice,” Gorn said. “He wanted me to see his points of view. He wanted me to see what he had written to various people.”
Gorn said Jakubowski asked for food and asked if he had to leave the field. Gorn told him he could stay the night. When he returned to his house, Gorn said he felt a bit uneasy with the campsite and called the Vernon County Sheriff’s Office. Law enforcement officers began to descend on the property in the dark and set up a perimeter around the camp. Gorn estimated 100 officers arrived and sat down with him to look over maps of the property. A thermal imaging camera showed Jakubowski was in the tent, he said.
Tactical officers moved in about 6 a.m. and arrested Jakubowski without resistance, according to the Rock County Sheriff’s Office. Gorn said he didn’t see any weapons at the camp, but Milwaukee-based FBI special agent Justin Tolomeo said authorities recovered five firearms, including a long gun, and a samurai sword.
“The full scale of (Jakubowski’s) actions are under review,” Tolomeo said.
Jakubowski’s capture quieted concerns after authorities said Thursday they were investigating a letter threatening Easter attacks on churches in Wisconsin, specifically around Sussex, purportedly sent by Jakubowski. Officials did not confirm its authenticity.
An Easter egg hunt at the governor’s mansion that was cancelled Thursday because of the hunt for Jakubowski was back on for Saturday.
Janesville Police Chief David Moore earlier said Jakubowski cited concerns about President Donald Trump in his 161-page manifesto, but that he didn’t make any specific threats.
The sheriff’s office said Jakubowski filmed a video of himself dropping his manifesto, addressed to Trump, into a mailbox and speaking of a “revolution” before the manhunt began. He warned in the video that whoever received the manifesto “might want to read it.”
Authorities believe Jakubowski drafted a letter of apology to the owner of a gun store in his hometown of Janesville before stealing 18 guns, two silencers and ammunition on April 4.
News of Jakubowski’s capture brought relief to residents of Janesville.
“With the kind of weaponry he had, he could’ve done extensive damage,” said Richard Erdman, owner of The Coin Shop, a pawn shop downtown. He said his wife had been avoiding the mall, fearing it could be the target of an attack.
“These kinds of things keep people on the edge,” said Fabian Gonzalez, the general manager of the Milwaukee Grill. “A little bit stressful.”
Associated Press writers Ivan Moreno in Milwaukee and Cara Lombardo in Madison contributed to this report.
Gretchen Ehlke, The Associated Press