Brent Douglas Cole, a 60-year-old self-proclaimed "sovereign citizen" who posted internet messages supportive of rancher Cliven Bundy in his battle with the federal Bureau of Land Management, allegedly shot a BLM ranger as well as a California Highway Patrol officer on Saturday at a campground in California's largely rural Nevada County.
The shooting would be the second time this month that an anti-government, Cliven Bundy supporter opened fire on law enforcement authorities. Earlier this month, Jerad and Amanda Miller, who had visited Bundy Ranch during the Nevada rancher's standoff with the government over unpaid cattle grazing fees, murdered two police officers and another man.
The circumstances of Saturday's shooting were somewhat different. Though authorities have not yet stated what set off the incident, Cole appears to have become involved in a confrontation with the BLM ranger and the police officer, which somehow turned into a gun battle.
All three men were shot, though none of their injuries are believed to be life-threatening.
Cole had been arrested in January and charged with carrying a concealed weapon.
While details about 60-year-old Brent Douglas Cole are sketchy so far, and there has not emerged any evidence suggesting that he visited Bundy Ranch, he took a strong interest in the case, a fact made clear by at least one Facebook post in which Cole links the federal so-called "land grab" against Bundy to "Harry Reid and a Chinese solar farm."
Cole also described himself as a "sovereign citizen," which according to the Southern Poverty Law Center which tracks right-wing extremist groups and ideologies, means that he believed he alone, rather than the government, possesses the right to decide which laws should be obeyed.
"Sovereigns believe that they -- not judges, juries, law enforcement or elected officials -- get to decide which laws to obey and which to ignore, and they don't think they should have to pay taxes," the SPLC says.
Cole also apparently believed that he, personally, was the target of a government conspiracy. In court papers Cole filed in connection with his gun case, Cole described the government oppression he claimed was directed against him.
"Officers acted without warrant or any probable cause to seize my person using a swat team style assault, and then started looking for something to charge me with. I was attacked and molested, unconstitutionally arrested, unlawfully incarcerated, repeatedly intimidated and coerced to plead guilty to having committed a crime, held in secret for five days, and my property and liberty taken from me since January 26, 2014. I am being persecuted for being a gun owner, and for exercising my inherent Right by unwitting or unknowing accomplices of a seditious conspiracy against rights instituted by foreign powers inimical to the United States of America."Several law enforcement agencies are involved in investigating how and why Brent Douglas Cole came to be involved in a shootout with the CHP officer and BLM ranger