Moral Low Ground


West Virginia Anti-Government ‘Doomsday Prepper’ Kills 3 with AR-15 Rifle

Erick Shute (police photo)

Erick Shute (police photo)

Pennsylvania police arrested an anti-government “sovereign citizen” who admitted to killing three of his neighbors with an AR-15 rifle because of an ongoing dispute.

West Virginia Metro News reports police in Chester County, Pennsylvania arrested 32-year-old Erick Shute of Great Cacapon, West Virginia with the help of Morgan County, West Virginia sheriff’s deputies and West Virginia state police. The manhunt began after a 911 call, placed at around 4:45 pm Monday, reporting a shooting at Valley High Timber Farms in Great Cacapon. Responding officers found three people killed by gunfire.

The victims were identified as Jack Douglas of Great Cacapon, and Travis Bartley and his father Willie Bartley, both of Hedgesville. According to Morgan County Sheriff Vince Shambaugh, Shute, who described himself as an anti-government “sovereign citizen,” confessed to killing the victims, with whom he had numerous disputes, including property-related issues.

“There has been a history, but we’ve not been able to substantiate anything as far as putting any charges on the deceased because of these allegations,” Shambaugh told reporters. “Our deputies have been up there several times in the past six months to a year, but it was never anything that required any action until this.”

Shambaugh said that Shute “took cover behind a tree and shot these people ambush-style.” The sheriff identified the weapon used in the killings as an AR-15 semiautomatic “assault-style” rifle. Shute’s Facebook page contains a photo of an AR-15 against a backdrop of a Confederate flag, with the popular pro-gun caption, “Come and Take It.”

Shute 2

The Hagerstown Herald Mail reports Shute was also an active “doomsday prepper” getting ready for the “End of Times,” or period leading up to the biblical “Judgment Day” when Christians believe the deity figure Jesus Christ will return to Earth.

Shambaugh spoke about Shute’s “sovereign citizen” beliefs. “These folks, they don’t want to pay taxes. They don’t want to recognize local government. They want to build these compounds back in these places away from everybody,” he explained. “They’re preparing for the end times and to be the survivors. He’s tried to recruit some locals to help him build his compound with his little group of sovereigns. He’d talked to the locals about his compound with a cache of weapons and ammunition stored there. That’s where they are all going to go in the end times.”

Shute attempted to defend his actions in a Facebook post:

This was self defense. I talked to a cop and he even agreed this was an open and shut case of self defense and they probably won’t even pursue charges. I am just waiting to talk to the prosecutor. I have nothing to hide. Media can contact me on my cell. I am open to talk. These guys stole over $20,000 pf our stuff and sold it for drugs and threatened me to my face before. They even unscrewed my brakeline while I was asleep. Everyone not on drugs on the mountain hates them. These are known thieves and drug addicts.

Shute was previously indicted by a New Jersey grand jury in 2011 on charges of attacking a police officer and resisting arrest. He gained some notoriety in that state two years earlier when he hung a defaced American flag upside down to protest what he called a “corrupt” government. Shute explained to reporters that he didn’t like what was happening in the country, including President Barack Obama’s plan for health care reform, the Federal Reserve and increased taxes.

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