The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

Pennsylvania Cop Shot Dead by Man Described as Reclusive Survivalist

By Bill Morlin on December 19, 2011 - 5:56 pm, Posted in Sovereign Citizens

The suspect who shot and killed a Pennsylvania police officer and wounded a second policeman over the weekend died himself Monday in a gunfight with lawmen who surrounded his house in Webster, Pa.

Eli Franklin Myers III, 58, died in a hail of gunfire after he exited his home on Logan Street, firing a large-caliber handgun at Special Response Team officers who had identified him as the suspect in the deadly police shooting the previous night.

East Washington police officer John David Dryer, 46, of Claysville, Pa., died two hours after being shot in the head at point-blank range after stopping a vehicle driven by Myers on Interstates 70-79 in Washington County in southwestern Pennsylvania late Sunday, authorities said.

Officer Robert Caldwell, who responded as a backup, was wounded before Myers drove off, triggering the dragnet that ended Monday. Caldwell, airlifted by helicopter to a nearby hospital, was listed in fair condition Monday.

It wasn’t immediately clear why Dryer stopped Myers’ minivan on the freeway, but after the traffic stop the officer quickly saw the driver had a gun on his lap.  Authorities said Myers did not have a valid registration or proof of insurance.

When Dryer asked Myers to get out of the vehicle, the driver opened the door and fired once, hitting Dryer in the groin. As Caldwell took cover, authorities said Myers fired at least once, hitting him in the hand.

The suspect then walked over to where Dryer lay on the highway and shot him in the head, authorities said at a press briefing on Monday.

It wasn’t known if Myers produced a valid driver’s license or if his vehicle lacked legal license plates – hallmarks of antigovernment “sovereign citizens” who the FBI says pose a major threat to law enforcement officers making routine traffic stops.  Initially, there was no hard proof specifically linking Myers to any antigovernment groups or movements, but associates describe him as a reclusive survivalist who loved firearms.

In recent years, Myers, himself a former police officer, had grown increasingly reclusive, loved antique firearms and looked like a “burly” survivalist, said West Newton Mayor Mary Popovich.

Myers also recently ended a long-term relationship with a woman she knows, Popovich said, at a loss to explain the reason behind that breakup.

“I knew him very well in my younger years,” Popovich told Hatewatch. While she worked for the West Newton ambulance service, Myers worked as a police officer.  Popovich did not know why or when Myers left law enforcement work.

Neighbors, however, later told WTAE-TV in Pittsburgh that Myers had grown increasingly despondent since the death of his wife a year ago and had become known as a man “who could get you anything you wanted in terms of weapons and ammunition, including assault rifles,” the television station reported.

West Newton is about 12 miles from Webster, where Myers, who was single, lived and died in the shootout.

“I’ll tell you I just can’t believe that he even killed somebody,” Popovich said.  “He was a gentle giant, but I guess people change.”

“When I knew him, he wasn’t this monster,”’ the West Newton mayor added. “For him not to have a driver’s license and no license plate on his car, as I’m hearing, that is uncharacteristic of the Eli Myers I knew.”

She said Myers belonged to the local Royal Order of the Moose and an antique firearms club, but she didn’t know if he also had ties to antigovernment groups or other extremist organizations.

But the nature of the crime brings to mind another fatal traffic stop on May 20, 2010, when Sgt. Brandon Paudert and Officer Bill Evans of the West Memphis, Ark., police department were fatally shot  in an attack captured on the police vehicle’s dashboard camera. The suspects in those shootings, Jerry Kane and his son, Joe, were sovereign citizens who believed they didn’t fall under state and federal laws requiring such things as driver’s licenses.

The Kanes later were tracked to a shopping center parking lot, where they were killed in a shootout with police.

The state of Pennsylvania is no stranger to police shootings carried out by antigovernment extremists.

In April 2009, Richard Poplawski killed three Pittsburgh police officers who responded to a domestic violence call at his Pittsburgh home.

Poplawski was a survivalist who held virulent antigovernment and white supremacist views, salted with a various conspiracy theories related to gun control, martial law, and the imagined concentration camps operated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

  • Shadow Wolf

    I remember that Poplawski story. In which, another rabid lone white supremacist, who was known for his “Lone Wolf” antics “Wolf Radio” and “Wolf Philosophies”, otherwise known as Hardy Lloyd(who is currently incarcerated btw). Whom the SPLC has intelligence reports on him previously. Had praised Poplawski’s evil misdeeds. After his lunatic anti-law enforcement rantings and praising the murders. Hardy was later re-arrested on possible weapons violations.

    As for Chris’s comment, your inane generalizations of what is “leftist” is nothing short of stereotypical. Personally, I’m not a “leftist” by any means. But know a few who do not fit your criteria of that lifestyle you noted. For starters, these people I know(leftist) could very easily be mistaken for a gun-toting nativists. Given to their interests in hunting, great outdoors etc. Same as I. A
    And I don’t listen to that kind of music either.

  •, Aron


    How about you make your police report on those EpiscoMuslim Terrorists? We’re still waiting on your explanation.

    Until then, sit the **** down and shut the **** up!

  • Kiwiwriter

    As an old copy editor, Woland, I can tell you that there won’t be a libel or slander suit. For one thing, the article isn’t libelous. Secondly, it’s not slander, because it was published. And thirdly, only living people can sue for libel. Mr. Myers is dead. Such is life.

  • Dick Lancaster

    “Initially, there was no hard proof specifically linking Myers to any antigovernment groups or movements, but associates describe him as a reclusive survivalist who loved firearms.”

    So the SPLC will assume he is a right wing cop killer and associate this incident with others where proof is evident. We can’t let a “reclusive survivalist who loved firearms” go to waste. We need to turn over every rock and if we don’t find right wing ideological crimes, we’ll imply them. That’s how we become a prominent civil rights organization with influence over the FBI and the DHS. We report. We decide.

  • S M Toth

    Bravo Woland, it’s obvious your GED prep courses paid off.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Chris, where did you get the idea that any sizable amount of leftists are hipsters? Hipsters are faux-leftists.

  • Reynardine

    Schultzie, dearest, I’ve no notion what sort of figure problem you may be hypersensitive about, but since we can’t even see you, we’re sorry we hurt your little feelings.

  • chris schultz


    It was not meant to be funny or cute, but now that you mention it, progressives do have a particular fondness of cute indie music songs and the corporate television commercials that go with them. Of course, all the while railing against the “system” which they control and tacitly support. Oh the hipster irony of it all.

  • Aron


    Get a life. That wasn’t even remotely funny.

    (This comment was written on an iPhone, by a short person who lives in the exurbs. And he’s also pleasantly plump. So there.)

  • chris schultz

    Oh no, he looked like a “burly survivalist”. Us leftists who live in the city, are purposely skinny, can’t be without are apple gadgets, social media, and hipster music should make sure to add this description to our “be afraid of… file”. Hopefully, there will come a time when we will no longer have to deal with pesky survivalists who know how to live off the land and have views that differ from our own, in particular reclusive people. I mean how dare they have the audacity to want to live an existence away from others and be distrustful of the government.

  • Reynardine

    Woland, what the Hell “slander and libel” are you talking about? That would stand only if Mr. Myers was sitting in front of his TV while he was supposedly murdering people and dying in a shoot-out. However, since truth is a defense against libel, the fact that he was actually murdering people and dying in a shoot-out rather kills his case.

  • CM


    You apparently skipped a couple of important classes in law school. (And grammar school, too, for that matter; “kin of kin,” “some gorups,” etc.) Or are you a “sovereign citizen” yourself and think you can just make up laws as you go along?

    My deepest sympathies go to Officer Dryer’s family. Hopefully, his sacrifice will at least help put people on notice that firearms-hoarding extremists really are a threat and need to treated with extreme caution.

  • Reynardine

    This sounds very much like a developing case of mental illness, rather than an ideologically motivated killing, even though there are cases- like Jared Loughner’s- where it’s hard to draw the line.

  • Woland

    Hopefully Mr. Myers has kin of kin who can sue this website, and Mr. Morlin pesonally, for slander and libel.
    With SPLC’s total known assets, this should be easily be punitive damages in the five to six figure range. If the SPLC can de-enfranchise other Americans with frivilous lawsuits… “What is sauce for the goose should be sauce for the gander” … Unless, of course, the courts are set up to favor some gorups over others.