GONZALES — A Gonzales man claiming ties to the Oath Keepers and Sovereign Citizens movements that have had deadly run-ins with law enforcement landed in jail this month after he threatened to shoot any Gonzales employee who stepped foot on his property because the city had turned off his water, police said.
Wearing full body armor with a knife strapped to his chest, a Kevlar helmet with a face mask and armed with pepper spray, Brandon D. Gibbs, 29, had to be coaxed out of his home and subdued by officers, police said Friday.
An officer was able to fire pepper spray under Gibbs’ face shield while another officer talked to him, Charlotte Guedry, police spokeswoman, said in a news release.
City Clerk Clay Stafford said the city filed a police report last week after Gibbs called the city’s utility department Dec. 1 and threatened a clerk over his water service. It was turned off the same day for nonpayment of his bill.
Stafford said Gibbs threatened that “if you come back on my property, I’m going to put a bullet in a tire or in somebody’s head.”
Three Gonzales Police officers served Gibbs with an arrest warrant Dec. 2, one day after the threatening call, Guedry said.
Gibbs, 413 W. Pine St., Apt. A, was booked into the Ascension Parish Prison near Donaldsonville on four counts of attempted aggravated battery, resisting an officer, possession of marijuana, illegal possession of body armor in the presence of narcotics and improper telephone communications, Guedry said. Gibbs remained in jail Friday evening with bail set at $13,064.50.
Even before his arrest Dec. 2, Gibbs was known to city officers for his anti-authority beliefs, violent tendencies and harsh feelings about city government, according to a police detective and a police report.
In May 2013, Gibbs was arrested on counts of resisting an officer and aggravated assault after he allegedly pulled a knife on two people in front of his West Pine home and threatened to “blow” them away with an AK-47 semi-automatic rifle if they ever returned, a police report says.
Before that arrest but after officers had checked for him at his home, Gibbs sent police an email warning them that “no trespassing would be tolerated” and “to stay away,” the report says.
Once in custody, Gibbs told officers he was part of a 500-man militia and trained in Maurepas with other members every weekend on military tactics and to practice his shooting, the report says.
Gibbs also told officers he was hoping to go to Pakistan in two years so he could fight and maybe die for something “that was ‘just and true’ ” but noted he could not serve in the military because he had been deemed psychologically unfit, the report says. Gibbs added he was weary of corruption in Gonzales but “that he and his friends would take care of it.”
Gibbs was found guilty in May on a misdemeanor count of resisting an officer. The aggravated assault charge was dropped, court minutes show.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, based in Montgomery, Alabama, which monitors hate groups and other extremists in the nation, says the antigovernment Oath Keepers group, which also calls itself Patriots, encourages police officers and soldiers to disobey orders that may be unconstitutional.
Followers of the Sovereign Citizens Movement believe that they can decide which laws to obey and which to ignore, the law center says. Adherents generally have loose affiliations with one another.
Police Detective Sgt. Steven Nethken said Gibbs is one of a few self-proclaimed Sovereign Citizen believers in Gonzales that officers track. Nethken said that while it is not a crime to be part of the movement, police track the followers for officer safety reasons and share that information with other departments.
During Gibbs’ arrest in May 24, 2013, an officer struggled to handcuff him and also secure a small knife sheathed on his chest, the report says.
On Dec. 2, officers said, they were able to use minimum force to take Gibbs into custody, even though he was armed with pepper spray in his hand and a large knife strapped to his chest.
But Gibbs told officers he had other knives in his home and he was smoking marijuana, which could be found under his bedroom dresser, Guedry said.
In the summer of 2012, several people arrested in the ambush of St. John the Baptist Sheriff’s Office deputies were linked to the Sovereign Citizen movement.
The sheriff’s deputies were ambushed in a trailer park outside New Orleans, where they had gone to arrest suspects from an earlier shooting near a refinery in LaPlace. Two deputies were killed and two were wounded then.
Nethken said officers have no indication at this time if Gibbs is connected with the LaPlace members of the Sovereign Citizens.