Members called him "Captain Hutaree" or, somewhat cryptically, "RD." A federal indictment calls him the “principal leader” of the Hutaree militia – an extremist group federal authorities say was preparing to "levy war" against the US government by killing police officers.
He is David Brian Stone, and early media accounts sketch a portrait of a man pulled increasing toward the militia movement and its radical fringe. His ex-wife said she left him because he "got carried away." Federal authorities allege that he researched how to build roadside bombs on the Internet. And at least one neighbor said the group that Mr. Stone leads had acquired a certain notoriety around town.
"You don't mess with them," she told the Detroit News.
Monday morning, federal authorities released an indictment against Stone and eight other members of the Hutaree militia. They allege that Stone and his followers were planning an attack sometime in April, perhaps killing an police officer then targeting the funeral with improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to raise the death toll. The group saw the police as the arm of a US government, which they felt was the enemy. [Editor's note: IEDs were described incorrectly in the original version of this paragraph.]
'Handguns to big guns'
It had not started out like this, said Donna Stone, David's ex-wife.
“It started out as a Christian thing," Donna Stone told reporters at the preliminary court hearing Monday morning. "You go to church. You pray. You take care of your family. I think David started to take it a little too far. He dragged a lot of people with him. When he got carried away, when he went from handguns to big guns, I was done."
“He dragged a lot of innocent people down with him," said Donna Stone, whose son was legally adopted by David Stone and was among those indicted. “It started to get worse when they were talking about the world's gonna end in the Bible.”
According to the indictment, David Stone researched IEDs on the internet and e-mailed diagrams of the devices to someone he believed capable of manufacturing the devices. He then directed his son, Joshua, and others to gather materials necessary for the manufacturing of the bombs.
The indictment further concludes that in June 2009, “Stone taught other Hutaree members how to make and use explosive devices intending or knowing that the information would be used to further a crime of violence.”
Other militia groups in Michigan distanced themselves from David Stone and the Hutaree.
"I've met him. He's an opinionated man who likes to share those opinions," Jim Gulliksen of the Lenaway Volunteer Michigan Militia told the Detroit News. "The Hutaree is a nationwide group, but I have met a couple of the members here, and I can say they all belong to one specific church. Our concern is the protection of our nation. Religion appears to be a big part of what they are doing."
A Christian survivalist
According to group’s website Hutaree.com, Hutaree means “Christian Warrior.” The website announces: “The Hutaree will one day see its enemy and meet him on the battlefield if so God wills it.”
Heidi Beirich of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks militia groups nationwide, said Monday she was aware of two Hutaree chapters: one in Utah and one in Michigan. She noted Hutaree has more than 350 friends on its Myspace page, dozens of which are other other militias, and she said David Stone was planning to attend a summit in Kentucky with other militias next month.
“Hutaree is not an isolated crew,” she noted.
People in the southeastern Michigan community of Adrian, Mich., knew of the group, which would shoot guns and run around in camouflage. "Everybody knew they were militia," resident Phyllis Bruger told the Detroit News.
The Hutaree website claims the group was “preparing for the end time battles to keep the testimony of Jesus Christ alive.”
Beirich suggests militia members like David Stone see “the end of times” occurring today: “They have extreme antigovernment beliefs. They have rage and hatred for the federal government. They fear being put in FEMA concentration camps. They’re really paramilitary organizations.”