Two members of a Christian paramilitary group called “The Savior Unit” were charged with kidnapping and burglary for allegedly conducting a home invasion while clad in ski-masks, military garb and bullet-proof vests.
Michael Shaun Schaffran, 32, and Cody Jacob Rogers, 18, were arrested after allegedly breaking into a home on Tuesday night in Gautier, Mississippi. They were each charged with three counts of kidnapping and burglary of an occupied house, the Sun-Herald reports.
According to police, Schaffran and Rogers dressed up in military gear, ski masks and bullet-proof vests, broke into the house, and attacked the three people who lived there. At the time of the arrest, Schaffran had a knife, though Rogers was unarmed.
Authorities say Schaffran is the “commander” of a paramilitary group of teenagers called “The Savior Unit” or “The Tactical Support Unit,” and Rogers is the “captain.” According to an operations manual allegedly confiscated from Schaffran and Rogers, the goal of the group is to “promote Christ, obtain offenders who are a danger to society, do community service work for churches and halfway houses, and do security for different functions.”
From the Mississippi Press, Captain Kenny McMellon said in a press conference that Schaffran and Rogers led four other teens, ages 16-18, in “training” that took place in the woods, including “hand-to-hand combat, reconnaissance, paramilitary operations and Bible scripture reading.”
Schaffran is from Arizona, where he has felony convictions for theft, forgery and aggravated assault, according to Detective Matt Hoggatt. “So far, it looks like a 32-year-old guy who recruited people half his age for a vigilante group,” he said. “We’re hoping as the investigation progresses, as we uncover more, there will be less to worry about.”
Hoggatt also said there was no clear connection between Schaffran and Rogers and the victims: “Last night, there was no record of any police responses to their house in the past and there is no indication that they were doing anything illegal. So, that’s part of what this investigation is, to determine why they were targeted.”
Schaffran and Rogers are being held on a $225,000 bond.