Two members of a notoriously violent, racist family are once again in federal custody following a raid at a remote Arizona ranch where federal agents found a large cache of weapons and ammunition.
Kirby K. Kehoe, 65, and his son, Cheyne C. Kehoe, 37 — who once shot it out with police in Ohio and, with his still-imprisoned older brother, plotted to create an all-white “Aryan Peoples Republic” — are being held without bond in Flagstaff on federal charges of being felons in possession of firearms and ammunition. Additional counts could be filed when the case is presented to a federal grand jury for indictment.
The pair was arrested Monday after federal agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, acting on a tip, executed a search warrant at a 40-acre ranch near Ash Fork, Ariz., about 140 miles north of Phoenix, said ATF spokesman Tom Mangan.
Agents arrested Kirby Kehoe on the property and later arrested Cheyne Kehoe in Prescott, court documents disclose. The arrests were carried out with extraordinary caution and prior surveillance “due to the violent nature of the family's past,” Mangan told the Arizona Republic.
In 1997, Cheyne and Chevie Keho were involved in two shootouts with police — caught on a police dash-cam videos — after a traffic stop in Wilmington, Ohio. The video was broadcast widely and repeatedly, leading to a nationwide manhunt for the Kehoe brothers, who were eventually arrested.
The ATF official said this week’s raid was conducted in cooperation with law enforcement from around the country and “planned to avoid the potential for a violent confrontation,” the newspaper reported.
Specific details weren’t released, but “dozens of weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition were seized,” the Arizona newspaper reported.
Cheyne Kehoe currently is charged with possessing a Ruger .22-caliber rifle that he transported earlier this year from Montana to Arizona, charging documents say. Kirby Kehoe is charged with possessing a Glock 9mm pistol that was found on a desk next to a bed in a trailer where he lived.
“The reason and rationale for having executed the warrant on the property in that manner was driven by public safety, just based on the past history of this individual and the sons,” Mangan said. He did not immediately return a phone call from Hatewatch.
Chevie Kehoe is serving a life sentence in federal prison for his role in the 1996 torture-murders of an Arkansas gun dealer, his wife and her 8-year-old daughter, carried out during a robbery of the dealer’s weapons. The robbery, authorities said, was meant to help finance a plot to overthrow the federal government and establish an Aryan Peoples Republic in the Pacific Northwest.
Some of the stolen guns were sold by the Kehoes to other white supremacists, including members of the Aryan Republican Army, a domestic terrorist group that carried out 22 bank robberies in the Midwest in the 1990s.
The Kehoes have lived in northeastern Washington, northwestern Montana, Arkansas and Arizona, and have long-established ties with the Christian Identity religion that teaches white people are the true children of God, black people are soulless animals, and Jews are the biological descendants of Satan.
While attending a Christian Identity church as youngsters living in Stevens County in Washington state, Chevie and Cheyne Kehoe became childhood friends of Israel Keyes, who later became a serial killer whose string of murders are still being investigated by the FBI following his jail cell suicide last year in Alaska.
Cheyne Kehoe was originally sentenced to 24 years in prison for his role in the Wilmington shooting. No police officers were shot, but a bystander was wounded. His sentence later was reduced to 11 years, leading to his release in 2008.
In Ohio, Clinton County Sheriff Ralph Fizer Jr. was chief deputy at the time of the shootouts, which led to the nationwide manhunt for the Kehoes. The sheriff was quoted in today’s editions of the Wilmington News Journal saying that he was aware that Cheyne Kehoe's prison term had been reduced.
"We figured he'd be out again and in trouble,” the sheriff told the newspaper. “No one here wanted his sentence reduced. We weren't very happy when we heard the sentence had been reduced.”
In 1999, Kirby Kehoe was convicted in the Eastern District of Washington and sentenced to 51 months in prison for possessing firearms stolen by his sons and transportation of firearms while under indictment. When he was arrested in March 1997 north of Spokane, federal agents found two live hand grenades and a machine gun in a camper trailer he shared at the time with his wife and six other sons.
Neither Kirby nor Cheyne Kehoe can legally possess firearms because they have prior federal convictions.