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Sovereign Citizens: Keys for caution with these high-risk subjects

Members of the Sovereign Citizens movement “openly reject their citizenship status and claim to exist beyond the realm of government authority”


Bob Paudert is convinced his son and a fellow officer would still be alive if they’d known the special red flags to watch for during a traffic stop of a mini-van carrying a father and son with a virulent loathing for governmental authority — and an AK-47 to back it up.

Paudert, until recently the chief of police for West Memphis, Ark., was on his way out of town for a getaway weekend with his wife when they heard the radio call of two officers down nearly two years ago. U-turning back, the Pauderts were among the first on the scene where one West Memphis officer, Bill Evans, lay facedown in a watery ditch, shot 11 times alongside an off-ramp of Interstate 40.

Sprawled on the pavement nearby was the body of his sergeant, gunned down while he still clutched his Glock 22 in his right hand. That was the Pauderts’ 39-year-old son, Brandon. Spent shells around him testified that “he was in a fight for his life and lost,” as Paudert puts it.

Ninety minutes later in a firefight with law officers in a Walmart parking lot not far away, a sheriff and his chief deputy were wounded and the van’s occupants were killed. The suspect who’d murdered Brandon and Bill was 16 years old. Like his father, he was a dedicated Sovereign Citizen, part of a movement little known at that time but now recognized as a growing domestic terrorist threat to law enforcement.

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