Feds are looking for militia man who mounted armed patrols on South Texas border
By KEVIN KRAUSE | The Dallas Morning News | Published: August 9, 2019
DALLAS (Tribune News Service) — A North Texas militia member and convicted felon who led armed patrols of the Texas-Mexico border has gone into hiding after being released from prison on federal weapons charges.
Officials warn that Kevin Lyndel Massey’s recent vows to wage war against the federal government make him a dangerous threat.
U.S. Marshals are searching for Massey, 53, who lived most recently in Quinlan, less than an hour east of Dallas. Federal authorities say Massey, who espouses anti-government rhetoric, is known for his love of heavy weaponry as well as an “alarming rage.”
This May, about 10 months after he was released on probation, Massey became a fugitive, and a warrant was issued for his arrest, court records say. His probation officer said in court records that Massey tested positive for illegal drugs and failed to report to him. At the time, Massey’s feelings about his situation were appearing on Facebook.
“The feds forced me to take this battle, it wasn’t by choice.”
“The tyrants will soon feel what we the people feel.”
“I am now a sought after man, who is going to stand up and NEVER allow them to kidnap me again.”
Massey calls himself a patriot, but the FBI considers him a domestic terrorist with “violent tendencies,” according to court records.
He was found with 20 homemade explosive devices and other weapons a few years ago and is considered armed and dangerous, officials say. His prison writings, archived online by a supporter, as well as his Facebook posts show that he fervently embraces right-wing extremist movements, all of which deny the legitimacy of the U.S. government and any laws limiting gun ownership.
“Defendant Massey is a man who calls upon God to end the lives of the innocent to gratify his anger,” Assistant U.S. Attorney William Hagen wrote in 2015 in his unsuccessful attempt to seek a tougher prison term for Massey. “Defendant has called upon those who may share his misguided and misinformed views to take up arms in resistance against civilized laws enacted to protect the public.”
Recent domestic attacks, including Saturday’s mass shooting in El Paso, have involved young men with white supremacist views. Experts on extremism in the U.S. say militias are less lethal than white supremacist terrorists. But over the past 25 years, anti-government groups and white supremacists have been responsible for roughly the same number of terror plots and attacks, said Mark Pitcavage, senior research fellow with the Anti-Defamation League‘s Center on Extremism.
While militias have not been as active and vocal under President Donald Trump, the current immigration crisis has invigorated them, he said. Massey, who has been on the ADL’s radar since his 2014 arrest, symbolizes that trend, Pitcavage said.
“This is clearly a dangerous person we’re talking about,” he said.
Massey’s former attorney, who is now a judge, declined to comment.
While the Marshals continue to look for Massey, they charged an associate of his less than two weeks ago for allowing Massey to live on his property. James Russell Smith, who lives in Lone Oak, east of Dallas, is charged with conspiracy to conceal a person from arrest. A federal complaint said Smith, who runs a tattoo parlor, also allowed Massey to store his property, including firearms, on his land.
Massey, an electrician and self-described “commander” of the Rusty’s Rangers militia, was sentenced to 41 months in federal prison in 2016 for possession of a firearm by a felon, according to court records. Prosecutors say Massey, dressed in military fatigues, conducted armed patrols with others on the South Texas border in 2014 to search for immigrants attempting to cross into the U.S. In Facebook posts, Massey described detaining immigrants at gunpoint and binding their wrists with zip ties.
He vowed to remain at the border until regulators “sealed the border or there’s some sort of civil war,” federal authorities said.
When ATF agents raided his Brownsville hotel room in 2014 and searched his truck, they found a cache of weapons and ammonium nitrate, an explosive chemical used in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, court records show. South Texas prosecutors say Massey has expressed support for Timothy McVeigh, whose deadly attack on that city’s federal building killed more than 160 people and injured over 680 others.
Militias emerged in the 1990s, partly as a response to federal gun control laws, according to the ADL. Similarly, the “patriot movement” describes several extremist groups in the U.S. who advance anti-government conspiracy theories.
Massey also has referred to himself as a “three percenter,” which the ADL calls a wing of the militia movement who falsely believe only 3% of colonists fought against the British during the Revolutionary War. They see themselves as modern revolutionaries, “fighting against a tyrannical U.S. government,” the ADL says.
Massey also has claimed in court documents to be a “sovereign man” who is not a U.S. citizen and not under U.S. jurisdiction. A Facebook page created for him called Massey a “patriot who served on the Texas border repelling foreign invaders.”
Massey’s troubles with the law began when he was 19, when he was convicted of separate weapons charges for carrying a revolver, two baseball bats spiked with nails, and a table leg with attached chain, prosecutors said.
The 1980s also saw two home burglary convictions for him in Dallas County, for which he was sentenced to five years in state prison, court records show.
Massey, known as “KC,” enlisted in the Army but was discharged after just 59 days, according to prosecutors. He joined the Cossacks motorcycle club, which the FBI considers a criminal organization, and served as a sergeant-at-arms, court records show.
Massey and his wife, from whom he’s now divorced, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2004. He said in filings that he’d worked as a web developer and listed among his possessions a 1988 Harley Davidson and a pistol.
He would gain infamy in 2014 for his activities in Brownsville as a member of a border vigilante group called Rusty’s Rangers. The militia members, displeased with U.S. border enforcement, say they took matters into their own hands after obtaining permission to access private property. Their makeshift “Camp Lonestar“ on rural land served as a “staging area for their patrols,” according to a federal search warrant application.
Massey routinely videotaped his border activities and posted them on Facebook, court records say.
On the afternoon of Aug. 29, 2014, Massey and two other men were patrolling the banks of the Rio Grande with rifles in heavy brush at the same time U.S. Border Patrol agents were chasing unauthorized immigrants in the area, court records said. One of the militia members, a felon named John Frederick Foerster, emerged suddenly from the brush aiming his gun at one of the agents, records said. The agent fired at least four times at Foerster but missed.
An enraged Foerster wanted to fight the agent, records said. Massey stood by an ATV nearby, armed with a pistol and a rifle that resembled an AK47, records said. An investigation began immediately, and sheriff’s deputies and federal agents arrived to assist. Massey was detained, questioned and released. Agents kept his firearms.
In a video posted to Youtube a few days later, Massey criticized the Border Patrol, alleging that the confrontation was “orchestrated.”
“They felt intimidated by the fact that we’re more effective than they are,” Massey said in the video.
Federal agents arrested Massey in October 2014 at a hotel in Brownsville and searched his truck and room. The search warrant said border agents had “numerous encounters” with members of the militia, who had set up a camp near the river. Agents seized a ballistic helmet, body armor, a supply of ammonium nitrate and fuel, thousands of rounds of ammunition, a night camera, improvised explosives, and four Honduran ID cards, according to court records.
Some of the rounds were armor piercing, records said. The explosive devices containing shrapnel were designed to be fired from a 37mm grenade launcher, according to authorities. Massey was later indicted on four counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm. He went to trial and was convicted on all counts.
Massey was sentenced in January 2016.
Hagen, the prosecutor, asked for a sentence greater than five years, citing Massey’s “utter disregard for federal law,” his calls for violence, and his references to federal law enforcement as “cockroaches” and “maggots.”
“Because defendant not only disrespects the law, but explicitly rejects the legitimacy of it, he will undoubtedly rearm and re-offend once released from prison,” Hagen wrote in a filing.
But U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen, of the Southern District of Texas, gave Massey a reduced sentence after granting a defense request for credit for accepting responsibility.
Months after being released on probation, Massey told Smith he was broke, hungry and needed a place to stay, according to Smith’s criminal complaint. In mid-July, Massey moved to Smith’s property in Lone Oak, court records say.
The marshals soon learned he was there and set up surveillance. Massey was seen coming and going from the home with what appeared to be a firearm on his hip, the complaint said. Law enforcement ordered everyone out. Smith and his wife exited, but Massey was gone, the complaint said. Smith told agents he didn’t know where Massey was. The marshals said they found an AK47-style pistol inside a bag he left behind.
Smith surrendered on July 29. His attorney declined to comment.
Massey’s ex-wife, Khristy, said she doesn’t think her former husband will turn himself in.
“I’m concerned. We have children together,” she said. “I don’t know how it’s going to end.”
Anyone with information about Kevin Massey’s whereabouts is asked to call a U.S. Marshals tip line at 1-800-336-0102.
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