One of the nine members of the Hutaree Christian militia prepared for a violent showdown with police — to the point that he “secreted weapons” around the rural Michigan home where he was holed up late last month — before finally surrendering after a daylong standoff, prosecutors allege in a new court filing.
The new allegations regarding Joshua Stone — the 21-year-old son of alleged Hutaree leader David Stone — come in a filing by the government arguing against bail for Stone. The government’s account reveals that heavily armed police surrounded a property in rural Hillsdale County for an entire day before Stone and other unidentified associates — all allegedly armed — finally surrendered.
Stone’s attorney tells TPMmuckraker that his client, armed with shotguns, was “hunkered down and in fear.”
Eight other alleged Hutaree members had been arrested March 27, but Joshua Stone, after apparently learning about the arrests, fled his home with his wife and “made a series of ‘alert’ phone calls to Hutaree members and also to members of other militias looking for assistance,” the government alleges.
At 10 p.m. that night, Stone and five other Hutaree associates allegeldy met with the unidentified leader of “another Lenawee County militia.” The filing alleges:
“The defendant told these militia members that Hutaree members were detained for unknown reasons in Ann Arbor. He also indicated that the ATF was “raiding” his residence and was looking for him. The defendant then indicated that he needed weapons, and he indicated that he wanted to sneak back into his house and take weapons. He further indicated that the Hutaree would go to war if the government did not release all Hutaree members within two hours. The defendant also stated they would already be “on” (at war with the government) if they had weapons.”
They allegedly arrived at a Hillsdale County property whose owner gave Stone and the others “food, water, and shelter.” That’s where the weapons allegedly came into the picture:
“At some point, the defendant and the others obtained weapons from the property owner’s residence and armed themselves. In anticipation of an armed engagement with law enforcement, the defendant and the others secreted weapons around the property,” according to the filing.
In a phone interview with TPMmuckraker, Stone’s court appointed attorney, James Thomas, said that “it’s an interesting situation in that the government had arrested virtually the entire membership of the alleged conspiracy, except for one other person. He’s now 21 years old, realizes that the government with all of their resources is coming out to get him.”
Thomas continued: “The government with all of its resources — which included military-type vehicles, semi-automatic and possibly automatic weapons — certainly with firepower that was extremely overmatched for the shotguns that Mr. Stone had — was able to put him in a situation where he was hunkered down and in fear.”
The government says that on the evening of March 28, they formed a perimeter around the property. The next day they announced their presence using a loud speaker and “demonstrations of force by driving a Michigan State Police armored vehicle toward the residence.”
“During the stand-off, two of the persons accompanying the defendant decided to surrender, but felt they needed his permission. They approached the defendant and requested his permission to surrender, but were denied that permission,” the government alleges.
Finally, at 8:30 p.m. on March 29, the armored vehicle drove toward the house and a camper where Stone was holed up, and he surrendered, according to the government.
Thomas says that he has been told by witnesses that Stone came out after the police played a recording of family members. “[The prosecutors] get to pick and choose what it is they want to say because we haven’t received discovery yet,” he said. Initial media reports also reference recordings by family and friends.
Beyond detailing the standoff, prosecutors allege that in January Stone talked about a “covert reconnaissance operation” by the Hutaree, scheduled in April. That’s the month the Hutaree allegedly planned to attack police.
In the planning for the alleged operation, Stone allegedly spoke of shooting anybody who happened upon the group (his interlocutor is not identified):
Joshua Stone: And as far as this training in April, don’t be afraid to pull the trigger on anybody, if we have to. That’s like right now.
___: Who would these people be though?
Joshua Stone: I don’t know.
Joshua Stone: I don’t know and frankly I don’t care. If they catch us then we have to do our job. Welcome to the business, of ah, being in the business of shooting people. Now if we do wind up plugging somebody, welcome to ah ah, the first training of really shooting someone. Or maybe not shooting them, killing them with a knife, or if they don’t want to work with us.