Associate of Bundy, Finicum; militia leader arrested, charged for attempted bombing on Arizona Strip

William Keebler booking photo, composite image | Photo courtesy of Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – A Tooele County man believed to be an associate of Cliven Bundy and Lavoy Finicum has been arrested after allegedly trying to blow up a Bureau of Land Management building at Mt. Trumbull on the Arizona Strip.

William Keebler, the head of the citizen militia group Patriots Defense Force, was arrested Wednesday in Nephi and appeared in U.S. District court Thursday. He is being charged with trying to blow up federal property.

Keebler unknowingly assigned an undercover FBI agent to build two explosive devices, a probable cause statement filed in support of the arrest said. One device was be used against an unoccupied building and the other to be used against law enforcement if members of the group were stopped going to or from Mt. Trumbull, the document states.

The planned attack happened late June 21 when an inert explosive device was placed against the door of the BLM cabin and Keebler pressed the remote detonation device multiple times.

“We are appalled by the alleged activities of Mr. William Keebler,” BLM spokeswoman Kimberly Brubeck said in an emailed response to questions. Fortunately, no one was hurt, and the BLM facility at Mt. Trumbull, Arizona, was not damaged. We are cooperating with the Department of Justice in the on-going investigation.”

Brubeck would not comment further and said all questions about the case are being referred to the Department of Justice. Arizona Strip BLM officials could not comment on the matter either.

Keebler is the commander of the Patriots Defense Force headquartered in Stockton, according to court documents, and was present during the armed standoff in Bunkerville, Nevada, in 2014.

Read more: More Bundys indicted along with 11 others for 2014 standoff

Keebler was also an associate of Lavoy Finicum, an Arizona rancher who participated in a takeover of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in January and was shot by law enforcement.

Read more: Shots fired, 1 killed in arrest of Oregon militants

For several months before the Mt. Trumbull incident, FBI undercover employees had been infiltrating the militia, participating in field training exercises organized by Keebler.

According to the probable cause statement, Keebler allegedly continued to recruit, organize, and prepare the (Patriots Defense Force) for the day when the group can take part in an anti-government action with other militia groups similar to the event in Bunkerville, Nevada.

On May 15, 2015, Keebler talked to militia members about putting teams together and “going on the offensive.” In February of 2016, Keebler met with the militia and discussed potential targets, the statement alleges.

Eventually, Keebler decided to target BLM facilities in the “middle of nowhere,” intending to damage buildings or vehicles. He decided on a BLM facility located at Mount Trumbull; Keebler and Finicum had conducted reconnaissance on the facility in October of 2015.

“Keebler made it clear he didn’t plan on blowing people up for now, but he wanted his group to be prepared to escalate things, and take people out if necessary,” the statement said.

In April of 2016, the militia member and undercover agent was asked by Keebler to build two bombs, one with a remote control device capable of being detonated by a walkie-talkie. It was to be placed near one of the cabins at the Mt. Trumbull BLM facility. The other was to be ignited with a fuse and was for use against law enforcement if needed, according to the statement.

At least one militia group does not agree with Keebler and the Patriots Defense Force.

The United Sentinel Militia of Utah “strongly condemned” Keebler’s actions in a statement on its Facebook page. The Salt Lake City-based group describes itself as a volunteer force, trained to help the community in the wake of natural disasters and to defend the state of Utah and the United States if needed.

“Mr. Keebler does not represent any Militia that stays within the scope set out in the Constitution. His actions both past and present have been motivated by hate and an irrational agenda for selfish gain,” the organization states.

Keebler is charged with one felony count of attempting to damage federal property by means of fire or explosive. A detention hearing is set for Wednesday and Keebler’s initial court appearance is scheduled for July 6 before Judge Paul M. Warner. He will be represented by public defender L. Clark Donaldson.

Email: japplegate@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

 

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20 Comments

  • Jeannette June 27, 2016 at 9:19 pm

    This man and his compadres would be on a terrorist watch list. Of course, I’m sure they have ammo stocked in underground storage somewhere. This type of cult and this particular militia (“Patriots Defense Force”) is pretty scary and should be condemned by every law-abiding citizen. I believe in 2nd Amendment Rights and would defend that right under the Constitution, but this activity is just plain not acceptable.

  • Brian June 27, 2016 at 10:38 pm

    $50 says this was entrapment and that it never would have happened without the FBI’s involvement.

    Normally that would sound like a conspiracy theory, but of 508 terrorist attacks in the decade after 9/11, more than half of the “terrorists” were paid FBI informants. Almost all of them fit the same profile: dead broke, desperate, and with enough of a bad background to easily be setup as patsies.

    There are two possible scenarios going on here:

    1) The FBI is so ineffective at what they do that they should be de-funded and shut down.

    2) The FBI is incredibly effective, they’re just working against the American public and exist only to further agendas (especially gun control in the last few years) and to justify massive military spending and the militarization of every alphabet soup agency in the federal government.

    You can make your own decision (or bury your head in the sand, your call):
    http://www.motherjones.com/special-reports/2011/08/fbi-terrorist-informants

    It’s a fascinating story. I just wish it was fiction…

    • KarenS June 28, 2016 at 8:40 am

      There is a 3rd scenario. The FBI is doing its best to protect the American people, sometimes it succeeds, sometimes it fails. The Mother Jones article is interesting but most of the “FBI is using entrapment” stories come from the attorneys who are defending the terrorists. Not particularly reliable sources. I think a more accurate assessment is stated quite well here:

      “In the FBI’s defense, supporters argue that the bureau will only pursue a case when the target clearly is willing to participate in violent action. “If you’re doing a sting right, you’re offering the target multiple chances to back out,” says Peter Ahearn, a retired FBI special agent who directed the Western New York Joint Terrorism Task Force and oversaw the investigation of the Lackawanna Six, an alleged terror cell near Buffalo, New York. “Real people don’t say, ‘Yeah, let’s go bomb that place.’ Real people call the cops.”

      Now will that $50 be a check or cash? I prefer cash.

      • Bender June 28, 2016 at 3:48 pm

        > Now will that $50 be a check or cash? I prefer cash.

        Careful KarenS, Brian may pay you in Sovereign Citizen DollaryDoos

    • 42214 June 28, 2016 at 9:39 am

      Doubt you even know the legal definition of entrapment.

    • Bob June 28, 2016 at 12:39 pm

      fbi, cia, nsa, mossad, etc ect. these are the terrorists. not at all worried about muslims. its easy enough for these guys to commit the terrorist acts and then blame muslims. I’m not sure we’ve ever had an Islamic terrorist attack in this country that wasn’t a fully staged event (9/11 included). ooooohhh conspiracies tho! LOL

      • Henry June 28, 2016 at 7:21 pm

        Bob – did they stage the moon landing too? Is the moon really made of green cheese?

        • Bob June 29, 2016 at 1:03 am

          i wish u could open up your arrogant little (mormon?) brain to some new info. Take a look into the 9/11 research sites. I wish it was as easy as saying osama and some rogue muslims pulled that off with some boeings. i can’t say one way or another what happened, but the official story comes off as a huge lie. before u go off on your snide little moon landing remarks study up on 9/11. Until u have you’re not worth dealing with. Who knows, maybe your silly little old arrogant brain is capable of learning something new. cheers.

          • Bob June 29, 2016 at 1:06 am

            plus if someone is willing to believe an angel gave a little perverted farm boy named Joseph some GOLDEN PLATES, then not much of a stretch to study up on some OMG! CONPIRACIES!

          • Henry June 29, 2016 at 11:24 am

            No Bob, I’m not LDS. Maybe apply some critical thinking skills when reading your looney tunes “research” sites. Sounds like you and Rosie O’Donnell would make a perfect match.

          • Bob June 29, 2016 at 7:49 pm

            laziness, arrogance, and attempts at petty insults. pretty much exactly what i expected from u. like i said before, you’re not worth the time…

        • Henry June 30, 2016 at 10:12 am

          Bob – then why do you make the time anyway?

  • Real Life June 27, 2016 at 11:01 pm

    Bundy and all of his clones are scum. And if you are with them, you need to check yourself.

    • Brian June 28, 2016 at 12:01 pm

      I’ve spoken out against Cliven Bundy, Finicum, etc the entire time, but just because the Bundy’s were wrong, doesn’t mean the BLM and feds were right.

      On many, many fronts its clear that the US government is promoting its own interests over that of US citizens, and the Constitutional protections we’ve taken for granted are fading quickly. And both parties are responsible, as is an apathetic American citizenry, me and you included.

    • .... June 28, 2016 at 1:33 pm

      another brilliant comment from RealLowlife. ..how does he do it ? pure comedy gold ! you should take your meds and quick ! talking about scumbags, it seems you looked in the mirror. LOL !

  • knobe June 28, 2016 at 8:05 am

    ““Keebler made it clear he didn’t plan on blowing people up for now, but he wanted his group to be prepared to escalate things, and take people out if necessary,” the statement said.”

    Not smart enough to figure out that would not end well ?

  • Bob June 28, 2016 at 2:05 pm

    the lesson here: the FBI will train u and guide u, and mentor u to becomimg a full-on terrorist. they will even give u the bomb. the problem: the bomb won’t won’t work, and then u get locked up for life. seems ironic, LOL.

  • Bob June 28, 2016 at 2:07 pm

    for some reason i always default to muslims when talking about bombs and terrorists. a ‘murican patriot redneck isn’t their usual candidate

  • San June 28, 2016 at 3:57 pm

    I’m constantly amazed at what a redneck is willing to do. The fact that he was trying to motivate militia groups to band together in an assault is even more disturbing than the pipe bomb. Now, he’s willing to rely on a government funded public attorney to represent him….isn’t he afraid of a conspiracy there too? SMH

  • Fredric July 4, 2016 at 5:37 pm

    Stop calling our Christian Republican domestic terrorists “militia,” they are NOT “militia” anything.

    Man, look at these drooling white supremacists. THIS is what has become of Trump’s and Adolf Hitler’s “Master Race.” Behold the white Christian Aryan Republican in all his drooling, inbred, illiterate, sweaty NRA terrorist glory.

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