Bandera County Sheriff's Office Issues Domestic Terrorism Warning
Law Enforcement Agency Concerned Radical Anti-Government Groups May Be Moving Into Area
POSTED: Thursday, June 9, 2011
BANDERA, Texas -- The Bandera County Sheriff's Office issued a warning Thursday to citizens about an anti-government movement known for acts of domestic terrorism.
The law enforcement agency said followers of The Sovereign Citizens Movement have been known to carry out violent acts, including killing law enforcement officers and other public servants.
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The sheriff's office told KSAT-12 News the warning was prompted by the recent shooting death of Bexar County Sheriff's Deputy Sgt. Kenneth Vann.
"We have domestic terrorism right at our doorstep," said Capt. Charlie Hicks of the Bandera County Sheriff's Office.
Hicks said while there's no evidence Vann's death had any links to the Sovereign Citizens, it's the same type of crime followers are known for.
For example, in last May, a father and his teenage son opened fire on two police officers with an assault rifle during a routine traffic stop in West Memphis, Ark. News reports said the incident was sparked by the suspects' refusal to present a valid driver's license. The officers were killed in the shootout and the father and son died in a second shootout with officers a short time later.
"That's our main concern. Citizen safety and police officer safety in this area," Hicks said.
According to Hicks, followers of the anti-government, anarchist movement, share the belief that the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution has tricked Americans into becoming citizens of the United States and has offered them privileges, such as driver's licenses and other government benefits, which act as so-called hidden contracts through which Americans effectively have given up their sovereignty.
Hicks said followers are often very vocal about their beliefs.
"They've very serious in their beliefs, and very serious when they do go to violence," Hicks said. "They'll kill you in a New York minute."
Hicks said while a training camp for similar anti-government groups was discovered in Kerr County in the past, there is no evidence any members are currently operating in Bandera County. But Hicks said residents should still be cautious.
"Don't be getting into heated arguments with these people, because the potential for violence is there," Hicks said.
The FBI considers the Sovereign Citizens Movement one of the nation's top domestic terror threats. Oklahoma City bombing co-conspirator Terry Nichols was a follower and many believe Jared Loughner, the man who shot Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Ariz., in January, is also a believer.
Hicks said citizens are urged to report any suspicious activity to the Bandera County Sheriff's Office or your nearest local law enforcement agency.