DETROIT — Nine suspects tied to a Midwest Christian militia that was preparing for the Antichrist were charged with conspiring to kill police officers, then attack a funeral using homemade bombs in the hopes of killing more law enforcement personnel, federal prosecutors said Monday.
The Michigan-based group, called Hutaree, planned to use the attack on police as a catalyst for a larger uprising against the government, according to newly unsealed court papers. U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said agents moved on the group because its members were planning a violent reconnaissance mission sometime in April.
Members of the group, including its leader, David Brian Stone, also known as "Captain Hutaree," were charged following FBI raids over the weekend on locations in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana.
The idea of attacking a police funeral was one of numerous scenarios discussed as ways to go after law enforcement officers, the indictment said. Other scenarios included a fake 911 call to lure an officer to his or her death, or an attack on the family of a police officer.
Once other officers gathered for a slain officer's funeral, the group planned to detonate homemade bombs at the funeral, killing more, according to the indictment.
After such attacks, the group allegedly planned to retreat to "rally points" protected by trip-wired improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, for what they expected would become a violent standoff with law enforcement personnel.
"It is believed by the Hutaree that this engagement would then serve as a catalyst for a more wide-spread uprising against the government," the indictment charges.
According to investigators, the Hutaree view local, state, and federal law enforcement personnel as a "brotherhood" and an enemy, and planned to attack them as part of an armed struggle against the U.S. government.
The indictment charges members of the group conspired "to levy war against the United States, (and) to oppose by force the authority of the government of the United States."
Eight suspects have been arrested by the FBI, and one more is being sought. Of the eight captured, seven were arraigned Monday in Detroit and ordered held pending a bond hearing Wednesday.
The charges against the eight include seditious conspiracy, possessing a firearm during a crime of violence, teaching the use of explosives, and attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction — homemade bombs. All seven defendants in court on Monday requested to be represented by the federal defender's office.
The arrests have dealt "a severe blow to a dangerous organization that today stands accused of conspiring to levy war against the United States," U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said Monday.
Stone's ex-wife, Donna Stone, told The Associated Press before the arraignments that her former husband was to blame for pulling her son into the Hutaree movement. She said David Brian Stone legally adopted her son, David Brian Stone Jr., who is among those indicted. She said the marriage lasted about 10 years.
"It started out as a Christian thing," said Donna Stone, 44. "You go to church. You pray. You take care of your family. I think David started to take it a little too far. He dragged a lot of people with him."
Another son of David Brian Stone, Joshua Matthew Stone, also was indicted and is a fugitive, said Detroit FBI spokeswoman Sandra Berchtold.
On its Web site, Hutaree quotes several Bible passages and states: "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." There's also a picture on the site of 17 camouflaged men, all holding large guns.
The group didn't return an e-mail sent by The Associated Press, and attempts by telephone to reach the Stones went unanswered.
FBI agents in Michigan swarmed a rural, wooded property Saturday evening in Adrian, about 70 miles southwest of Detroit. The same night in Hammond, Ind., law enforcement agents flooded a neighborhood, startling workers at a nearby pizzeria. And in Ohio authorities blocked off streets and raided two homes.
Outside Adrian, two ramshackle trailers sat side-by-side on Stone's property. A long gun leaned against a washing machine that sat in the yard, and on top of a nearby canister was another long gun.
Heidi Wood, who lives near the property, said Monday morning she hears gunshots "all the time."
Her mother, Phyllis Brugger, who has lived in the area for more than 30 years, said Stone and his family were known as having ties to militia. They would shoot guns and often wore camouflage, the women said.
"Everybody knew they were militia," Brugger said. "You don't mess with them."
In Hammond, 18-year-old George Ponce, who works at a pizzeria next door to a home that was raided, said he and a few co-workers stepped outside for a break Saturday night and saw a swarm of law enforcement.75 comments on this story
"I heard a yell, 'Get back inside!' and saw a squad member pointing a rifle at us," Ponce said. "They told us the bomb squad was going in, sweeping the house looking for bombs."
He said another agent was in the bushes near the house, and law enforcement vehicles were "all over." He estimated that agents took more than two dozen guns from the house.
In Ohio, one of the raids occurred at Bayshore Estates, a well-kept trailer park in Sandusky, a small city on Lake Erie between Toledo and Cleveland. Neighbors said the man taken into custody lived in a trailer on a cul-de-sac with his wife and two young children.
Barrett reported from Washington. Associated Press writers David Aguilar and Jeff Karoub in Detroit; Mike Householder in Adrian; Rick Callahan and Charles Wilson in Indianapolis; John Seewer in Sandusky, Ohio; and Matt Leingang in Columbus, Ohio, contributed to this story.