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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: survivalists

Hunt continues for paranoid survivalist

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LOLO, Mont. (AP) — A practiced survivalist and former militia leader whose mother said he slipped into paranoia after repeated run-ins with Montana law enforcement eluded authorities searching for him Tuesday in a remote mountain range near the Idaho border.

 As the hunt for 47-year-old ex-convict David Burgert carried into its third day, court documents and interviews with law enforcement officials painted a picture of a well-armed “bully” who became convinced a decade ago that authorities were out to get him.

Burgert is being sought for attempted homicide and probation violations after allegedly firing a handgun at two Missoula County sheriff's deputies during a confrontation Sunday about 25 miles west of Missoula.

As the leader of the since-disbanded “Project 7” militia in northwest Montana, Burgert was convicted in 2003 of illegally possessing a machine gun and sentenced to federal prison. He was released last year.

Prior to his arrest in that case, Burgert eluded authorities by staging his death along the Flathead River and then retreating to a secluded forest encampment near Kalispell. He was caught about a month later following an hours-long, armed standoff in the forest, authorities said.

His latest escapade bears similar hallmarks: Caches of weapons, food and gear believed to be Burgert's have been found in the woods in the search area, and authorities said he appears to have planned the attack on the deputies.

No one was hurt in Sunday's exchange of gunfire.

In a 2007 letter to the federal judge overseeing his illegal weapons case, Burgert's mother, Phyllis Richards, pleaded for a reduction in Burgert's prison sentence based partly on his history of mental health problems. Richards said her son suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and became paranoid after he came under the watch of authorities.

“He was so scared for his own life he was doing all he could just (to) go to the mountains to live and to survive,” Richards wrote of her son's activities leading up to his arrest. “I saw fear in Dave I never saw before. … From that time on he was obsessed with things going on in the world and was so very paranoid.”

Read the rest of the Associated Press story by clicking the link below.

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