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Monday, July 29, 1996 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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8 From Area Arrested In Bomb-Making -- Freemen, Members Of Militias Among Those Jailed In Bellingham

Seattle Times Staff Reporters

At least eight people in Western Washington, including the leader of a militia group, have been arrested on explosives, firearms and trafficking charges.

A six-count federal complaint has accused eight members of organized militia groups of conspiracy to make and possess pipe bombs to "arm themselves for an eventual confrontation with the United States and the United Nations."

According to the complaint, four members of the Washington State Militia Association and four members of the Freemen conspired to make pipe bombs.

John I. Pitner, the leader of the Washington Militia, and members Marlin L. Mack, Frederick B. Fisher and Gary M. Kuehnoel, as well as Freeman members John Lloyd Kirk, his wife, Judy C. Kirk, Richard F. Burton and William Smith, also known as William Stanton, were named in the complaint.

Beginning Feb. 27, the suspects allegedly met and talked about making pipe bombs, and made seven such devices. Two of them were delivered to an undercover agent.

The suspects also are accused of possession and transfer of machine guns.

Undercover agent Michael German, who was using the alias Kevin Jackson, attended a couple of bomb-making instruction meetings and had conversations with the defendants.

"During the course of the investigation, special agent German has heard members of both groups express a shared concern about activities of the federal government and believed they should prepare themselves to respond with military action to what they believe would be a confrontation with the federal government of the United States," the complaint says.

The arrests of John Kirk, Burton, Fisher, Kuehnoel and Mack took place on Saturday at about 5 p.m. while they were attending a bomb-making class in a rented space in a Bellingham business park.

On June 15, Judy Kirk at the direction of her husband, John, delivered one of the pipe bombs to the undercover agent, according to the complaint. She allegedly retrieved the pipe-bomb from a barbecue grill and told the agent it would go off if he dropped it.

A neighbor said the Kirks have lived in the same Tukwila house on a quiet street across from an undeveloped Boeing property for 20 years. The neighbor, who did not want to be identified, said the Kirks had two daughters and a son who are now grown.

Judy Kirk works the swing shift at Boeing in Renton, leaving the house at about 2:30 p.m. and returning around midnight, according to the neighbor. The neighbor said John Kirk worked for several businesses over the years. Today, a small American flag hung from the porch and gardening tools leaned against the railing.

In January, Pitner told the Times there were at least 26 militia squads training in Snohomish County. He said the Washington State Militia was for "peaceful" change.

"Nobody has any reason to fear us," he was quoted as saying.

Mary Ann Fisher of Bellingham said her husband, Fred Fisher, 61, was arrested Saturday. She said he left home to attend a meeting and did not return. She learned of the arrest when FBI agents showed up that day and searched her house.

Meanwhile, the Whatcom County Prosecutor has charged eight other men with crimes including burglary and possession of firearms today as a result of a joint sting operation between the FBI and Bellingham Police. It was not immediately clear what the connection was between the two investigations.

All of the following were charged with trafficking and possession of stolen property: Ivan O. Lantis, Donald Lantis, David Wills, Kyle Mewell, Lawrence Lasater, Richard Camarillo, Michael J. Olaire and a 16-year-old juvenile.

Wills and Olaire also face charges for possession of illegal firearms.

Copyright (c) 1996 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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