Would-Be Cop-Killer Was 'Bringing Goodness'

Klan Crime

"I'm not a criminal," North Carolina Klansman Jimmy Ray Shelton said in April, just days after leading Texas police on a methamphetamine-fueled, high-speed chase in which passenger Eddie Melvin Bradley allegedly riddled pursuing patrol cars with 14 bullets.

"I thought maybe I could bring some goodness into this part of the country."

Jurors had a different view of good and evil. On Sept. 16, Shelton was convicted on two counts of attempted capital murder in Bastrop, Texas. The next day — after testimony on Shelton's Klan affiliations from Joe Roy, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Project — they sentenced him to a maximum term of 99 years.

Suspected Klansman Bradley's trial was expected later in the fall.

The pursuit began when Shelton's pickup was spotted traveling at 85 mph in a 25-mph speed zone. Two Williamson County sheriff's deputies gave chase, and more than 50 shots were exchanged.

While Shelton drove, Bradley allegedly shot at and hit both patrol cars, shattering the windshield of Deputy Brian Garvel, narrowly missing Garvel's head and lacerating his chin with broken glass. Deputy Julius Matus was not injured.

Shelton once served as national security chief for the bully-boy American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, headed by Jeff Berry of Indiana. Berry later claimed that Shelton had been booted out of his group after being convicted for carrying a concealed weapon at a 1998 North Carolina Klan rally. (Charges of assaulting a woman also were pending against Shelton at the time.)

When he was arrested, he was apparently starting his very own Klan offshoot, which he called the Confederate Ghost Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.

Found in the pickup driven by Shelton were methamphetamines, semi-automatic rifles, handguns, knives, night-vision goggles, detonation cord and Klan literature — all in all, quite a trove for the self-described "plain old country preacher."