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Conspiracy Theorist Slain in Police Shootout

Conspiracy theorist and former militia member William Cooper was slain in a shootout with police.

To many, William Cooper was merely a laughably paranoid, far-right conspiracy theorist. In his famous 1991 book, Behold a Pale Horse, Cooper wrote that President Kennedy was assassinated to prevent the exposure of a secret pact with space aliens.

On his shortwave radio show, Cooper argued that the U.S. government had carried out the Oklahoma City bombing and that it was using remote mind-control devices to establish a socialistic "New World Order."

As it turned out, Cooper, a one-time member of the so-called Second Continental Army of the Republic, was far more dangerous than your garden-variety conspiracy fabulist.

Before law enforcement officers served a warrant for his arrest on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, Cooper E-mailed pals that "I will ... try to kill as many as I can before they kill me."

He almost succeeded. After shooting a sheriff's deputy twice in the head, Cooper was killed by police on Nov. 6. The deputy is expected to survive.

The firefight was a disastrous ending to a standoff that had begun in 1998 when federal authorities charged Cooper with tax evasion and bank fraud. Hoping to avoid a violent showdown, agents deferred serving the arrest warrant for over three years.

Then, last July, a local warrant was issued for Cooper's arrest because he allegedly had left his hilltop property to threaten a passerby with a gun.

In the 17-officer operation in November, two sheriff's deputies disguised as pickup-driving civilians tried to lure Cooper away from his house and his large stock of weapons. Cooper surprised them by driving, not walking, to come scare them off.

When the officers identified themselves, Cooper drove home and then almost killed an officer when he swerved around a roadblock erected in front of his house. He shot the other deputy as he ran from his truck to the house.

William Cooper was killed by multiple shots before he made it inside. An acquaintance of Cooper's said that the officers were lucky to get him when they did, because Cooper kept a semi-automatic AK-47 by the front door.