Militia Man Who Shot At Police Still Loose
Missoula County sheriff's deputies sweep a rental cabin at the Lumberjack Saloon west of Lolo in the hunt for ex-Marine David Burgert
The Daily Mail via YellowBrix
June 14, 2011
MONTANA – U.S. agents are combing a 30sq mile block of dense forest in Montana after a shootout between an ‘armed and extremely dangerous’ former militia leader and sheriff’s deputies.
David Burgert, 47, exchanged gunfire with Missoula County officers along a logging trail on Sunday following a slow-speed car chase.
No one was hurt in the gun battle, but Burgert, who had been travelling in a jeep, was able to escape into the woods on foot, in scenes reminiscent of the film First Blood. Police fear the scenario could now play out like the Sylvester Stallone film action film in which Vietnam veteran John Rambo falls foul of local law enforcement and leads them on a pursuit through rugged mountain terrain.
The incident began when police responded to a report that the driver of a Jeep Cherokee was travelling erratically at a rest stop near Lolo, about ten miles southwest of Missoula.
When patrol cars arrived, Burgert allegedly ran a stop sign as the vehicle turned onto a roadway.
Officers pursued the former Marine for 30 miles before he spun onto a side road near a trailhead. Burgert allegedly responded to commands that he surrender by shooting at deputies before disappearing into the forest.
‘He is armed and extremely dangerous – he’s a danger to anyone he meets,’ Missoula County Undersheriff Mike Dominick said.
Burgert is the former leader of a Montana militia group known as Project 7 which allegedly plotted to assassinate local officials, go to war with the National Guard and overthrow the federal government.
He was first arrested in 2002 following a similar standoff with police in which he armed himself with a machine gun.
David Earl Burgert
In 2004 he was sentenced to ten years in prison for a string of firearms offences, including conspiracy to possess illegal firearms, possession of a machine gun and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Federal prosecutors argued he led a group that amassed machine guns and explosives. He was also diagnosed with paranoid personality disorder.
Last week, Burgert was stopped by the Montana Highway Patrol for a minor traffic offence. According to officials, he told patrolmen ‘he wasn’t going to be taken down like last time’ and that ‘it would take a SWAT team’ to bring him in.
Officers believe that the current incident was planned by Burgert. A stash of weapons and ammunition was found in and around his abandoned jeep and police suspect the survival specialist may have hidden a second SUV deep in the forest.
‘He was prepared for a confrontation,’ Undersherriff Dominick said.
‘It was not a high-speed chase, he drove purposely onto the logging road and he engaged the deputies with one to three shots.’
More than 60 officers are now involved in the search, assisted by a National Guard helicopter and a police dog team.
In the Stallone movie, Rambo is also chased by a helicopter but is able to escape before being pursued into an abandoned mine, where he is cornered by the National Guard.
He escapes from the mine and eventually surrenders after a stand-off back in town.