Las Vegas Metro Police Department
Published Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013 | 12:37 p.m.
Updated Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013 | 3:54 p.m.
Two members of the anti-government Sovereign Citizens movement have been arrested and charged after undercover officers unraveled their plan to kidnap and execute police.
Metro Police arrested roommates David Allen Brutsche, 42, and Devon Campbell Newman, 67, on Tuesday night after a four-month investigation into the Sovereign Citizens movement.
The FBI calls Sovereign Citizens “a growing domestic threat to law enforcement” and “considers sovereign-citizen extremists as comprising a domestic terrorist movement.” Sovereign Citizens, the FBI said, believe that federal, state, and local governments operate illegally, and members have been known to not pay their taxes, create false license plates, driver’s licenses, and currency. Since 2000, lone-offender sovereign-citizen extremists have killed at least six law enforcement officers, the FBI said.
The Clark County District Attorney’s Office this afternoon charged Brutsche and Newman with conspiracy to commit murder, conspiracy to commit kidnapping and attempted first-degree kidnapping with use of a deadly weapon.
In a midafternoon news conference, Lt. Jim Seebok of Metro's counterterrorism unit, said police first were turned onto Brutsche earlier this year. In a series of vehicle stops, Brutsche would espouse his Sovereign Citizen beliefs that he wasn't bound by the law Metro officers were enforcing.
"Sovereign Citizen is an ideology which in and of itself is fine," Seebock said. "It's when they profess that ideology in conjunction with criminal acts in violation of laws or to further their criminal acts (that) they come on our radar."
Undercover Metro officers infiltrated the group and met with the suspects about 30 times since April, in the process learning of their detailed plans to "snatch and grab" random police officers, try them for treason in a “sovereign” court and execute them, according to arrest reports released Thursday. The undercover officers had posed as people interested in joining the Sovereign Citizens movement.
Police said Brutsche was a six-time convicted felon and registered sex offender for offenses involving a child in California.
He was committed to the movement, police said.
“Blood or no blood — it doesn’t matter,” Brutsche told an undercover officer in July, according to the arrest report. “I will kill anyone that tries to stop the cause of liberty. I have no qualms about it.”
The arrest reports list a chronology of the investigation, including the following details:
Brutsche and Newman developed a plan to drive around the valley until a single officer conducting a traffic stop was spotted. The officer would be ambushed and ordered to not use a radio.
“Touch that radio and I’ll blow your head off!” Brutsche explained at one point. “That’s the first thing you gotta say.”
The officer would be tied up, put in a van for transport to a “sovereign” jail, where the trial and execution would occur.
To prepare for this scenario, Brutsche and Newman conducted several training classes with the undercover officers and familiarized them with the Sovereign Citizens’ ideology.
During a July 9 meeting with an undercover officer, Brutsche said Sheriff Doug Gillespie needed to be removed from office because he was “terrorizing the people.”
Brutsche went to a gun store with an undercover officer but left without buying anything because he didn’t want to leave a paper trail. He also indicated Newman already had firearms.
On July 26, Brutsche and Newman filmed a police officer conducting a traffic stop, so they could analyze the officer’s movements as part of their training. Undercover officers had staged the traffic stop.
A couple of weeks later, on Aug. 12, undercover officers invited Brutsche and Newman to an unoccupied, single-family residence under police control. The suspects had stated they needed a makeshift “jail” to bring the kidnapped officers.
Brutsche and Newman decided the house would be a suitable location and began installing 2-by-4’s to a master bedroom wall to hold restraints that would be placed on an officer’s legs and hands.
At this point, detectives concluded the suspects were transitioning from a planning to operation phase. On Aug. 15, Brutsche and Newman met with undercover officers to record a video they wanted to send to the media after they executed their plan.
When undercover officers met with the pair again Aug. 20, Brutsche and Newman reiterated they were ready to carry out the plan. Newman said told Brutsche and the undercover officers to text message her when they arrived at the house with a kidnapped officer. She would open the garage door.
At that point, SWAT officers entered the shop the group had been in and arrested Brutsche and Newman without incident.
After his arrest, Brutsche told detectives he planned to kill “zero” cops.
“I have committed no crime,” he told detectives. He then invoked his right to remain silent and was transported to the Clark County Detention Center.
Officers initially transported Newman to a hospital for a medical screening, but she was soon medically cleared and taken to the detention center also.
Brutsche and Newman remain in the detention center, according to jail records. They are scheduled to appear Friday in Las Vegas Justice Court.
Seebok said a search of Brutsche and Newman's residence yielded no weapons. Metro's investigation continues, and Seebok said other arrests are possible.