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A nationwide manhunt is under way for an antigovernment fugitive who shot at an Idaho State Police officer over the weekend before kidnapping a woman and taking her from Idaho to Montana.
Mitchell Lee Walck, who served prison time in Montana for assaulting a police officer, released the 62-year-old kidnap victim unharmed 580 miles away in Glendive, Mont., after taking her at gunpoint from her home in Rathdrum, Idaho, on Saturday.
Walck, 57, is believed to be driving the woman’s stolen 2005 silver Subaru Forester station wagon, with Idaho license plate K230050, perhaps heading toward his home state of Pennsylvania, authorities told Hatewatch.
The FBI has joined the hunt for the fugitive, believed armed with a 9 mm semiautomatic pistol and two rifles and ammunition he stole from the kidnap victim’s North Idaho home.
The suspect broke into the woman’s home on Saturday, attempting to hide after firing a 9 mm pistol at close range at an ISP trooper who stopped a stolen truck in nearby Spirit Lake, Idaho, Friday evening. The officer, who was wearing a vest, was not hit, said Capt. Greg McLean of the Post Falls, Idaho, Police Department.
A briefcase found in the stolen truck contained “various antigovernment writings” with references to federal sieges at Waco and Ruby Ridge and “a series of questions for the FBI,” McLean said.
While some of the suspect’s writings and scribbled rants have the hallmarks of the antigovernment “sovereign citizens” movement and he doesn’t have a driver’s license, nothing was found that specifically showed Walck has declared himself a sovereign citizen, McLean said. Sovereign citizens generally believe they are immune from many taxes and laws, including those requiring driver’s licenses and vehicle registration.
The stolen truck Walck was driving had license plates stolen from another vehicle. Authorities said it’s possible the fugitive now has put stolen license plates on the kidnap victim’s Subaru.
Walck has lived an itinerant lifestyle, and in recent weeks has been in the Idaho cities of Priest River, Sandpoint, Clark Fork and Idaho Falls, and the Montana cities of Butte, Missoula and Libby. He is known to make friends at churches before stealing firearms and other items from those he befriends, authorities say.
“If there are 10 identifiers for a ‘sovereign citizen,’ this guy has at least two of them at this point,” the police captain said. “What we do know is that he’s heavily armed and extremely dangerous.”
Because of the kidnapping and interstate travel, the FBI has joined the investigation and was expected to issue an unlawful flight warrant for Walck’s arrest by this evening.
The kidnap victim was being driven back from Glendive, Mont., by a Kootenai County sheriff’s detective and hadn’t been fully interviewed about her ordeal or asked whether the suspect expressed antigovernment views while holding her hostage, said Lt. Stu Miller of the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office.
“There’s been speculation this guy has racist, militia or sovereign citizen connections,” Miller told Hatewatch. “Though he may have those ideologies, there’s no proof at this point.”