Skip to comments.Doomsday Prepper Martin Winters Surrenders, Held Without Bail
Posted on 06/19/2014 5:24:39 AM PDT by Iron Munro
TAMPA Federal authorities sought doomsday prepper Martin Winters for two days in the woods of east Hillsborough County, attempting to arrest him on weapons charges.
On the third day, agents didn't need to look far at all.
Winters, soggy-shoed and hungry, waited with a daughter in a car outside the FBI field office on Gray Street in Tampa on Wednesday morning as his attorneys stepped up to a reception desk and arranged his surrender.
In trade, he got cheeseburgers, fries, Gatorade, dry shoes, praise from the FBI and a morning free of gunfire all this from the agency that had spent months chronicling his antigovernment rhetoric and spying on his preparations for an imminent "last stand" with law enforcement.
"We're glad to report that Mr. Winters did the right thing," said FBI spokesman David Couvertier. "We were hoping for a peaceful resolution, and today we got that."
Winters invoked his right to remain silent and was moved to the federal courthouse in downtown Tampa for a first appearance before Magistrate Judge Thomas Wilson.
The defendant's three adult daughters sobbed when he was led into the room in restraints. He wore dark camouflage pants and a brown T-shirt, his face rimmed by a Zeus-like mane of churning black and white curls.
He stood when the judge entered the room. He called Wilson "Sir."
But Wilson called Winters a danger to the community and ordered him held without bail.
Federal authorities say Winters, 55, leads a group known as the River Otter Preppers that advocates survival preparations in advance of an end-times event foretold in the Bible's Book of Revelation.
He and five others were indicted by a grand jury nearly two weeks ago. He's accused of designing and building destructive devices without a permit, among other charges. He pleaded not guilty.
Defense attorney Ellis Faught Jr., who first represented Winters 35 years ago on a hunting violation, told the judge that an undercover FBI agent who spent months building a case against Winters had witnessed only talk.
But Wilson didn't accept that.
"This is not just talk," the judge said. "There were, in fact, destructive devices found and sold."
Winters talked about booby traps and stashes of weapons he had around his house at 3032 Williams Blvd., according to an FBI affidavit. He also discussed elaborate plans to kill government agents in the event that they raided his property.
The FBI had tried to arrest Winters on Monday as he was driving near Durant High School in east Hillsborough County, but he sped away.
Prosecutor Donald Hansen told the judge that agents exercised caution because Winters' two grandchildren were with him. Eventually, he let them out and then abandoned the vehicle and ran into the brush.
On Tuesday, the FBI announced a $5,000 reward for information leading to Winters' capture, calling him "armed and dangerous."
"It could have been a catastrophe had he not turned himself in," attorney Faught said.
The surrender process began with a phone call just after 7 a.m. Wednesday, according to Faught.
Winters' 26-year-old daughter, Tracey Winters, arranged to meet the attorney at his office. Once there, she said her father wanted to surrender, Faught said. They picked him up in the general area of his home, several miles southeast of Brandon.
"He got in the car immediately, and we didn't stop anywhere," Faught said. "We went on State Road 60 all the way in. I just wanted to make sure to get to the FBI office as fast as we could without incident."
A lot (but not all) of the charges against Winters are for thought crimes - what he would do in a SHTF world.
But thanks to the Patriot Act, our police state government can easily turn idle talk into a federal crime.
Other stories for backbround:
Hmmm. Wonder when the lsm will declare him a Tea Party supporter? And, it has to be realized that, while the nsa can’t find lois’ emails, they could sure as hell find any one of ours. Keep on FReepin’ on. You KNOW they’re watching this site. :>}
What’s the destructive device that he is accused of making?
This writer is terrible and completely misinformed. Winters fled on foot into a wooded area. He didn't "speed away."
He wore dark camouflage pants and a brown T-shirt, his face rimmed by a Zeus-like mane of churning black and white curls.
What is this? 11th grade English? You trying to win a Pulitzer with this tripe?
He's accused of designing and building destructive devices without a permit, among other charges.
And there's the rub. So it's not that he used them or sold them. He's just accused of designing and building them without a permit? So lemme ask knowledgeable FReepers: is the DESIGN of a "destructive device" illegal? I used to draw sketches of airplanes when I was in middle school. They were detailed down to wingspans, fuel capacities, and crew. Am I guilty of a crime for having drawn these fictional "destructive devices?"
I hope this guys is acquitted and sues the pants off the ATF for harassment. This is absolutely ridiculous. Prove to me that he sold these devices or that they even existed. I'm calling this whole damn thing a witch hunt.
FReepers beware! This is what our government wants to do to ALL of us!
IMO they do more than watch. They’ll instigate both to produce content which can be used to discredit but also to ferret out anti-govt types. Who they then track down and do further investigations on.
A smallpipe with a 12 ga shell in it. Poor mans claymore for perimeter protection.
What pisses me off is that the ATF and FBI spent all this time tracking down a single man in the sticks while a large Islamic organization (CAIR) with KNOWN ties to Islamic extremist groups goes undisturbed on 56th Street in east Tampa.
He probably had some plumbing parts and ammo reloading supplies in his basement. This become “he was stockpiling materials for construction of pipe bombs” in the indictment to come.
Regarding the grand jury - an ambitious, competent prosecutor can get an indictment against a ham sandwich.
The FBI’s idea of conducting an investigation is to wave money around hoping to attract potential informants, without which they couldn’t solve your average dog-bite case.
Correction - workshop, not basement. He’s in Florida, they don’t have basements.
AKA the Randy Weaver approach.
The first rule of survival clud is you don’t talk about survival club.
It's gotten beyond ridiculous.
I’m confused. What did he actually do?
see post 6 for driftdriver’s explanation of what he built or had plans for.
You might want to try rereading that paragraph. He first sped away in his car and then abandoned the car to flee on foot.
Well, I suppose that the folks out in east Tampa must be part of one of the “protected” classes. How far off I-4 are these religious freedom seeking folks?
So I take it it is illegal to build one of those. What about having the parts and a design? What’s wrong with that? Lots of people have pipes and 12 ga shells. What’s wrong with having knowledge of how to build something like that?
This is the first and biggest mistake detractors of the government and those who have the foresight to prepare for the inevitable make.
The first rule is silence backed up by well-though preparation.
Those who violate this are the reason why CIs exist at all.