A "free citizen" who refused to follow traffic laws threatened officers with a pig-shaped "device" during a four-hour stand-off that ended when a bomb squad robot deployed irritant chemicals through the window of his RV, and tore its rear door off.
Dennis Duane Vann, 42, was charged with making threats of violence with reckless disregard for risk, and fleeing police, both felonies, according to Minnesota authorities.
Authorities are investigating whether the "energetic" powder in the device qualifies as explosive under state law.
Law enforcement was called out by a grocery store in Maplewood , after Vann refused to move his RV.
Checking his records, they found he had no driver's licence, and had an outstanding warrant for non-payment of child-support .
They got no response when they knocked on the door of the RV, which soon after moved off, with Vann ignoring the flashing lights of the police as they followed.
Vann pulled over at nearby strip mall, but refused to cooperate, and when officers asked if he had any weapons, according to the criminal complaint, he said he had a "great big boom."
The police called in the SWAT team and the mall car park was partially evacuated during a four-hour standoff.
'He Said He Doesn't Need a Driver's License'They recovered a device was shaped like a pig from his RV, with the words "(expletive) the police" written on it, according to Eyewitness News.
The device "held an energetic powder and appears to be an explosive device", according to the complaint, which says further testing is required to determine whether or not it would qualify as an explosive device under Minnesota law.
“He said, ‘A couple of cops are going to die.’ … He made multiple references to having an IED [improvised explosive device],” said Maplewood Police Chief Scott Nadeau, reported Twin Cities. “Looking at the incident after the fact, our community can be proud that our officers acted with a great deal of restraint. The hours that passed, the conversations the officers had with him, they really tried to give him every opportunity to cooperate.”
People who call themselves "free citizens," or "sovereign citizens," believe that the government has no legitimate authority over them.
“I would say my experience with the sovereign citizens is some are very well versed in that ideology, (but) there are others who just choose to not recognize the authority of the government. That overarching theme is denial of authority,” Nadeau said.
According to Twin Cities, the conflict escalated when Vann refused to leave his vehicle. When officers said they would be required to remove him from it, Vann told them “that would be a huge mistake,” the complaint said.
When asked why, he replied, “Because two people would die today—that’s (expletive) why.” He then reached toward a space between his RV’s front seats.
The incident started at 5:10 p.m. Vann eventually crawled out of a window and surrendered at 9:30 after the bomb squad robot removed the curtains from the RV’s bay window and sprayed more chemical irritant inside.
"Sovereign citizen violent extremists usually target members of the government—including judges, police officers, and tax officials. In 2010, for example, a sovereign citizen extremist killed two Arkansas police officers during a routine traffic stop."