FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Two members of a notorious family that authorities say once tried to set up a whites-only nation in America were arrested this week in Arizona on federal firearms charges after a raid on a sprawling ranch netted dozens of weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition.
Kirby Kehoe and his 37-year-old son, Cheyne, had an initial court appearance Tuesday in Flagstaff.
Authorities received a tip that Kirby Kehoe, 65, had weapons on his 40-acre property near Ash Fork, about 140 miles north of Phoenix, said Tom Mangan, a special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Agents who raided the property seized dozens of guns, including shotguns and semi-automatic rifles and pistols, according to the ATF.
Kirby and Cheyne Kehoe both have previous felony convictions and are banned from possessing firearms.
The Kehoe family has been well-known to law enforcement since the 1990s when authorities say they provided weapons to various white supremacists who committed robberies across the Midwest. Authorities also said the family was involved in a plot to overthrow the federal government and establish the Aryan Peoples Republic in the Pacific Northwest.
Another son, Chevie Kehoe, is serving a life sentence in federal prison for his role in the 1996 killings of an Arkansas gun dealer, his wife and their 8-year-old daughter as part of the plot. Chevie Kehoe was also indicted with another man for the bombing of Spokane City Hall on April 29, 1996, when a pipe bomb packed with nails and screws exploded outside the building.
Cheyne Kehoe was sentenced in 1998 to more than 24 years in prison for his role in a shootout with Ohio police during a traffic stop about 40 miles northeast of Cincinnati. His sentence later was reduced to 11 years. No officers were injured in the gun battle, but a passer-by was wounded by a bullet fragment.
The family patriarch, Kirby Kehoe, was sentenced in 1999 to nearly four years in prison for racketeering and possession of illegal weapons in a case related to the plot aimed at overthrowing the government. The elder Kehoe, however, has maintained he was never involved in his sons’ efforts to establish a whites-only nation and that he isn’t a racist.
Mangan said due to the violent nature of the family’s past, authorities planned the Monday raid carefully, first setting up surveillance on the property before moving in with search warrants, heavily armed tactical teams and armored vehicles.
He said the raid was conducted in cooperation with law enforcement from around the country and was planned to avoid the potential for a violent confrontation.
Kirby Kehoe is due back in court Thursday for a preliminary and detention hearing. Cheyne Kehoe’s next court appearance is set for Oct. 22.
Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter
Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter.