Five suspected Alaska militia members arrested last week were arraigned in court on Friday, and the criminal complaints in the case reveal how they allegedly stockpiled weapons while plotting to keep their leader, Schaeffer Cox, from being arrested after skipping his court date.
TPM reported last week that Alaska Peacemakers Militia leader Schaeffer Cox, Lonnie. G. Vernon and his wife Karen Vernon, and Coleman Barney and Michael Anderson were arrested and charged with allegedly conspiring to kill multiple Alaska State Troopers and a federal judge. Among the charges were “conspiracy to commit murder, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, conspiracy to commit arson, misconduct involving weapons in the third degree, hindering prosecution in the first degree and tampering with evidence.” Lonnie G. Vernon was also charged in federal court for threatening to kill District Court Judge Ralph Beistline, who is presiding over Lonnie and Karen Vernon’s tax evasion case. Vernon pleaded not guilty on Friday.
A 16-page criminal complaint describes Cox - a self-professed Sovereign Citizen - as “paranoid and narcissistic,” and suggests that Cox enlisted his fellow militia members to help him avoid arrest after he skipped out on a February 14 court date. Cox was set to go to trial on a weapons misconduct charge relating to an incident from March, 2010, in which he approached an officer while carrying a concealed handgun, without informing the officer that he was armed. When Cox didn’t show up for his trial on the 14th, a bench warrant was issued for his arrest.
Leading up to the court date, Cox had several meetings with the “command staff” of the Alaska Peacemakers Militia, including the Vernons and Barney. The FBI recorded one meeting on the 12th, in which Cox allegedly described a “241” plan to avoid arrest for skipping his trial. “241” is shorthand for “two for one,” which describes how they would use “twice the force and consequences” in response to any “attempts to arrest or kill” Cox by law enforcement. According to the complaint:
If he was arrested, two state targets would be “arrested” (kidnapped). If he was killed, two state targets would be killed. If his house was taken, two state target houses would be burned. Cox spent a considerable amount of time logically (in his mind) justifying his actions, stating that “at this point, without any further provocation” he would be “well within my rights to drill [Superior Court Judge] McConahy in his forehead”.
According to the documents, his reasoning was that Judge McConahy had “signed that order saying I can’t talk the Constitution…the law requires me to resist him by all means necessary.”
“I know you’re ready to die, but you also have to be ready to kill,” Cox reportedly told his command staff. At a different time, the complaint alleges, Cox said that he “would not target a woman or child, but if their kids get killed in the process, so be it.”
“I don’t desire that people suffer for suffering’s sake, but if it gets the point across I’m not against sending somebody’s head in a box,” he’s reported to have said.
At a February 14th meeting at the Vernon’s home, Lonnie Vernon allegedly told Cox that if the police come for Cox, he’d “take all the sons of bitches I can with me. They’ll die a miserable death too.”
The group is also accused of making “wanted dead or alive” posters with the faces of their targets.
From at least October 1, 2010, the complaint details, Cox and others allegedly “began amassing multiple caches of assault rifles and prohibited explosive devices, which by February 23, 2011 were known to include a tripod-mounted, belt-fed .50 caliber machine gun, a belt-fed, hand-cranked, tripod mounted .30 caliber machine gun, at least one fully automatic assault rifle, multiple pineapple grenades, at least one grenade launcher, multiple dozens of other high-powered assault rifles and pistols, and thousands of round of ammunition.”
At a hearing on December 15th, Cox told Judicial Services Officer Sgt. Schoenberg that “we know where all the Troopers live, we have you outmanned and outgunned and could probably have you all dead in one night.”
At the arraignment for the five on Friday a state magistrate set bail at $3 million for Cox, and $2 million for each of the others.
Lonnie Vernon dismissed the criminal complaint is “hearsay on paper,” according to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. Cox’s lawyer argued at the hearing that he should be able to keep firearms in his home if he posts bail “so he is not a sitting duck for people who may come after him.”
The second felony complaint can be read in full here in .pdf form, via the News-Miner.