Former Colville resident Cheyne Kehoe ended a nationwide manhunt by driving to the Stevens County Courthouse and surrendering Monday to Sheriff Craig Thayer.
Kehoe, 21, was allowed to read a brief statement about the February shootouts with law officers that made federal fugitives of him and his brother, Chevie Kehoe, 24, who remains at large.
“The reason I acted in the manner I did was due to the actions taken against men like Randy Weaver, Gordon Kahl and Bob Matthews,” Kehoe said, referring to a trio of right-wing radicals who were involved in fatal shootouts with police.
“I feared for my life,” Kehoe said. Kahl and Matthews died in shootouts with police in 1983 and 1984, and Weaver was wounded in a 1992 standoff at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, in which his wife and son were killed.
On Monday afternoon, Cheyne Kehoe was brought to Spokane. He is expected to be arraigned this week in U.S. District Court on a charge of interstate flight to escape prosecution, Thayer said.
Kehoe also faces a 16-count indictment in Ohio, where he is accused of shooting at a state trooper, deputy sheriff and two police officers.
In his statement, Kehoe said he believes “the government and law enforcement agencies abused the individual rights of these men. I believe in the rights of any U.S. citizen to be free to his or her religious and ethnic beliefs.”
He read as Thayer held up a small sheet of yellow tablet paper containing Kehoe’s handwritten, badly spelled message.
Thayer had to slip the paper out of Kehoe’s pocket and hold it for him because Kehoe was quickly placed in handcuffs when he arrived at the south end of the county courthouse at 2 p.m. as arranged.
Kehoe was accompanied by a small group of friends and family members, including his wife, Tanna, 20, and their 10-month-old son, Christopher.
They were joined by Pastor Ray Barker of Colville Christian Israel Covenant Church. He called Undersheriff Gilbert Geer about 9 a.m. to arrange the surrender, and then videotaped the event.
Lacking a church building, Barker uses tapes to promote the Christian Identity doctrine that claims people from northern Europe, not Jews, are God’s true “chosen people.”
Barker said he has known Cheyne Kehoe for three or four years, performing his marriage almost two years ago.
Kehoe also was accompanied by his wife’s parents, Bob and Ronda Wilburn of Colville.
Bob Wilburn said his faith in his son-in-law is unshaken.
“He’s a good, hard-working, honest young man,” Wilburn said. “I was just tickled to death when he married my daughter.”
Wilburn said he believes Kehoe, not the much-broadcast videotape that police say shows Kehoe opening fire on an Ohio State Patrol trooper after a traffic stop. The dramatic videotape was recorded by a camera in the patrol car.
A suspect believed to be Cheyne Kehoe emerges from the passenger side of a Chevrolet Suburban and begins exchanging gunfire at close range with one officer while another officer approaches the driver, believed to be Chevie Kehoe.
No one was injured and the suspects escaped.
Later the same day, Chevie Kehoe is alleged to have fired 26 shots from an assault rifle at two Wilmington, Ohio, police officers who spotted the Suburban in a parking lot.
A passer-by was slightly wounded, and the suspects escaped again. Wilburn said the brothers separated before Cheyne Kehoe turned up at Wilburn’s home about 6 a.m. Monday. He said he doesn’t know the circumstances and doesn’t want to know.
“All I care about is Cheyne is safe and, hopefully, we’ll get these charges dropped,” Wilburn said, contending the videotape was edited to give a false impression.
“All I can say is the American people need to see the entire video uncut, undoctored and they’ll see an entirely different story,” Wilburn said. He credited his son-in-law with “a hell of a courageous act” in returning to Colville to surrender.
“He could have turned himself in anywhere in numerous states, which was what he wanted to do, but he wanted his son and my daughter back in our home where he knew beyond a doubt they’d be safe and sound before he turned himself in,” Wilburn said.
“If they would have found him alongside of the road, traveling to get here, I’m quite sure he would have been killed.”
Barker said he asked reporters to cover the surrender to ensure Kehoe’s safety, but he praised the way the Stevens County Sheriff’s Department handled it.
Kehoe was taken to Spokane in a four-car convoy of local, state and federal officers about 45 minutes after Thayer read him his rights and arrested him.
Thayer said police have no information on Chevie Kehoe’s location “other than what we already had.”
In addition to attempted murder charges stemming from the shootouts, Chevie Kehoe is charged with possessing stolen firearms tied to a triple murder in Arkansas in 1996.
Ten days after the Ohio shootouts, a federal grand jury in Spokane indicted him on two counts of possessing stolen firearms and a third count of possessing a machine gun.
Agents say the stolen firearms were owned by Arkansas gun dealer William Mueller, who was murdered along with his wife and stepdaughter last year. Chevie Kehoe has been sought since last summer for questioning in those 1995 murders.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo
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