UPDATE: Ryan Newell, the wounded war vet accused of stalking Fred Phelps' gay-hating, soldier-funeral-picketing Westboro Baptist Church, was released from jail yesterday. Read the update after the jump ...
We now know the name of the wounded Army vet accused of stalking
reports that Ryan Newell, a 26-year-old double-amputee war
veteran, is accused of stalking the church's members, who delight in protesting the funerals of soldiers killed in action; he's facing charges of stalking, criminal use of weapons and false
impersonation of a law enforcement officer.
Sedgwick County deputies arrested Newell on Tuesday after catching him
following members of Fred Phelps' infamous family. Inside his vehicle,
deputies found a
variety of weapons.
Via the Eagle:
The weapons charges accuse Newell of unlawfully carrying and concealing
or possessing with "intent to use" an M4 rifle, .45-caliber Glock
handgun and .38-caliber Smith and Wesson handgun. Besides the weapons,
Newell also had more than 90 rounds of ammunition in his vehicle,
Westboro spokeswoman Shirley Phelps-Roper told the Eagle: "We've had
communication about a federal investigation" involving
Newell. "And I don't think I ought to say any more about that."
That jibes with an Eagle report that federal agents with the
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives searched Newell's
home and removed firearms.
Newell, who lost his legs in 2008 to an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan, is still locked up in the Sedgwick County Jail on $500,000 bond,
which the Eagle reports people from across the country are offering to
pay. His trial is scheduled for December 16.
UPDATE: The wounded war vet accused of stalking Fred Phelps' gay-hating,
soldier-funeral-picketing Westboro Baptist Church is now facing a felony
charge. The Wichita Eagle reported last week that Newell is now facing a felony charge of conspiracy to commit aggravated battery. You can watch Newell's first appearance on the Eagle's website by clicking here. A judge also issued a protection from abuse order barring Newell from having contact with the Phelps family.
The Eagle also reports that prior to Newell's arrest, the war vet inquired with the Mulvane public safety director about the police presence at the protest and claimed he was an ATF agent.
Newell is still in the Sedgwick County Jail on $500,000 bond. Facebook pages supporting Newell have been set up (here and here).
As commenter "pop" pointed out below: "I'm surprised this hasn't happened sooner."
UPDATE II: Ryan Newell was released from jail on Tuesday around 2 p.m. on the condition that he report to the VA Hospital for treatment, the Wichita Eagle reported (as well as Plog commenter Brandon M. Trube). Newell's attorney picked him up.
Meanwhile, Westboro has planned a second protest in Mulvane -- this time, at the police department and American Legion -- for Tuesday, December 14. So expect more to the story.