‘Sovereign citizen’ may face attempted murder charges in South Yuba River shoot-out
June 27, 2014
A self-described "sovereign citizen" arrested in connection with a shooting that injured two law enforcement officers last week has been booked on attempted murder charges.
Brent Douglas Cole, 60, was treated for gunshot wounds at a Roseville hospital after being airlifted from the June 14 incident near Edwards Crossing on the South Yuba River.
He is in custody at a location that is not being made public, said Nevada County Sheriff's Lt. Dan Saunders.
Cole was arrested on a Ramey warrant, which is obtained by going directly to a judge. While the warrant reportedly listed two counts of attempted murder, it is up to the district attorney's office as to how to charge Cole should the case remain under local jurisdiction.
“Cole … has a history of indulging in far-right conspiracies on the Internet.”
Blogger David Neiwert
Another option would be to charge him with assault against a peace officer with a firearm, said Assistant District Attorney Anna Ferguson. The investigation into the shooting, which involved a California Highway Patrol officer and a federal Bureau of Land Management ranger, has been handled by the Nevada County Sheriff's Major Crimes Unit.
"We're ready to forward it to the DA's office," Sheriff Keith Royal said Friday, but added that no decision has been made as to whether the case will be handled by the state or the federal government.
The shoot-out started after CHP officers received a request from BLM personnel to assist with an investigation involving vehicles in the campground area.
CHP Officer Brent Hardin met up with the BLM ranger around 2:30 p.m., and the two headed together to a makeshift campsite area off North Bloomfield Road, a little less than a mile north of Edwards Crossing.
As the two officers conducted their investigation, they reportedly were confronted by Cole and a gun battle ensued. Hardin was treated for minor injuries related to gunfire, and the BLM ranger was treated for a reported gunshot wound to the shoulder.
Cole, who is facing an earlier criminal case involving weapons in Nevada County, has been drawing national media attention for his political views. The incident was the subject of a "Hatewatch" blog post, which is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.
"Cole … has a history of indulging in far-right conspiracies on the Internet," blogger David Neiwert wrote. "At one site, he described himself as a 'sovereign American Citizen attempting to thwart the obvious conspiracy and subterfuges of powers inimical to the United States.'
"On his Facebook page, he has posted a number of conspiracy-related stories, including pieces describing the so-called 'Bilderburger conspiracy' to control the world and various 'Federal Reserve' conspiracy pieces," Neiwert continued. "Likewise, his Twitter account is full of posts with a similar conspiracist bent."
In its summary of sovereign citizen beliefs, the law center writes, "Sovereigns believe that they — not judges, juries, law enforcement or elected officials — get to decide which laws to obey and which to ignore, and they don't think they should have to pay taxes."
Cole had been arrested by the Nevada County Sheriff's Office in late January and charged with carrying a loaded firearm and having a concealed firearm in a vehicle.
Cole chose to represent himself in the misdemeanor case and was scheduled to return to court on June 30.
In his blog post, Neiwert referenced that case, writing, "Cole flooded the Nevada County Court clerk with a blizzard of nonsensical, pseudo-legal filings — a typical tactic of so-called 'sovereign citizens.'
In one of these, Cole spelled his name in lowercase letters and called himself 'a natural born, flesh and blood, living man.' Another of these documents claimed that his right to own weapons is guaranteed under the Second Amendment and that those rights nullify California gun laws."
In the documents Cole filed in Nevada County Superior Court, he asserted that "Officers acted without warrant or any probable cause to seize my person using a SWAT team style assault, and then started looking for something to charge me with.
"I was attacked and molested, unconstitutionally arrested, unlawfully incarcerated, repeatedly intimidated and coerced to plead guilty to having committed a crime, held in secret for five days, and my property and liberty taken from me since January 26, 2014. I am being persecuted for being a gun owner, and for exercising my inherent Right by unwitting or unknowing accomplices of a seditious conspiracy against rights instituted by foreign powers inimical to the United States of America."
Talking Points Memo also picked up on Cole's arrest, noting his online profiles suggest someone obsessed with multiple conspiracy theories, including 9/11 trutherism, fluoridated water and anti-Semitic beliefs.
To contact City Editor Liz Kellar, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4229.
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