A kidnapping suspect with suspected extremist connections and a history of assaulting police was arrested Wednesday after attempting to hijack a tractor-trailer rig at a truck stop in Bismarck, N.D.
Mitchell L. Walck, wanted for shooting at an Idaho state trooper last weekend and later kidnapping a North Idaho woman, hid in the sleeper cab of the parked truck in Bismarck and pointed a handgun at its driver when he returned to the rig.
The truck driver ran from the rig and called 911, as did another eyewitness, telling responding officers that Walck had run from the truck stop to a nearby mobile home park, Bismarck Police Sgt. Mark Buschena told Hatewatch today.
The 57-year-old fugitive was arrested at gunpoint without incident by five Bismarck police officers and a North Dakota trooper who surrounded the mobile home park and found Walck hiding under a pine tree, Buschena said.
The incident may have ended peacefully because the 9 mm handgun Walck was carrying in his waistband was not loaded.
Walck, a Pennsylvania native, has expressed antigovernment views similar to those held by adherents to the “sovereign citizens” movement and has served prison time for assaulting a police officer. Extremists from that movement have had numerous run-ins with police in recent years, often because they have invalid driver’s licenses or vehicle registrations. Two West Memphis, Ark., officers were killed by a father-son team of sovereigns during a traffic stop in May 2010. Personal writings found in a briefcase in a stolen truck last weekend contained antigovernment rants, including references to federal sieges in the 1990s at Waco and Ruby Ridge, authorities say.
A police flyer warning officers that Walck should be considered armed and dangerous also said he may have possible connections with Shaun P. Winkler, an Aryan Nations and Ku Klux Klan leader, who also is from Pennsylvania and now lives in North Idaho.
Walck was booked into the Burleigh County Detention Center on three state charges – terrorizing, unlawful entry and felon in possession of a firearm, Buschena said. He also faces state charges in Idaho and the possibility of federal charges.
In Idaho, state charges were filed after Walck allegedly ran from a stolen truck he was driving last Saturday, shot at an Idaho trooper, then kidnapped a 62-year-old Rathdrum, Idaho, woman and took her to Glendive, Mont., where she was released on Sunday.
The kidnap victim has returned home but declined public comment. Her stolen 2005 Subaru was found by police in a parking lot near the Bismarck truck stop after Walck was arrested. The vehicle’s Idaho license plates had been replaced with stolen Montana plates.
The vehicle was impounded and was being searched Thursday by FBI agents and police in Bismarck. Buschena said he didn’t know if two rifles and ammunition stolen from the kidnap victim’s home were found in the vehicle.
After last weekend’s crimes in North Idaho, Walck shaved his beard and dyed his hair black, radically changing his appearances, authorities said. But that didn’t fool police in Bismarck, who had seen the all-points-bulletins for the fugitive after the FBI entered the case, obtained an unlawful flight warrant and posted a $20,000 reward.
“We were aware of him,” Buschena said, “and we quickly identified him as Walck after his arrest.” The police official declined to say if the suspect made any statements.
“We’re very fortunate no police officers or other people were hurt by this guy,” Buschena said.