An attempt to service an arrest warrant turned deadly in Middleburg Heights, Ohio, when a self-described “sovereign citizen” was killed in a shootout with local deputies.
The incident involved 65-year-old Israel Rondon, who had been convicted of carrying concealed weapons without a permit and of assaulting a police officer. As a proclaimed sovereign citizen, however, Rondon believed strictly in limited to no government and did not consider himself subject to federal, state, or municipal law.
After pleading no contest to his charges, Rondon was sentenced to two years of probation. According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Rondon used a rifle and opened fire on six deputies when they arrived at his home Tuesday intending to serve an arrest warrant related to a probation violation. Two deputies returned fire, with one striking Rondon in the head and killing him.
Although Rondon complained that his Second and 14th Amendment rights had been violated and had filed numerous lawsuits against various government agencies – sometimes seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in damages – standby counsel attorney Jeffrey James called him a “true libertarian”and seemed to express surprise at the idea he’d be violent.
“His views weren’t always cogent, and they were somewhat convoluted,” James told the Plain Dealer. “But did I feel threatened or did anyone in the court feel threatened? No. I never felt threatened by Israel. He was just an old man who had his views.”
“He basically believed in no government,” he added. “He just didn’t really put any faith or credit into any government.”
The FBI considers sovereign citizens to be part of a “domestic terrorist movement,” with well-known members like Terry Nichols, one of the convicted conspirators in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.
However, the acting supervisory special agent for the FBI’s Cleveland division, Jake Ruddy, told local ABC affiliate WEWS that sovereign citizens are not necessarily a cause for alarm.
“General public should not necessarily be concerned of sovereign citizens as a whole,” he said, “but the general public does have a right to be concerned about any segment of our society that brings violence, exercises violence and break federal and state laws.”
As for Rondon himself, his sister Edna told WEWS he “wasn’t a criminal.”
“I know he was a good man,” she said.