Monday, April 23, 2007

Militia headquarters damaged by early fire

As flames rose from the roof of the Washington County militia headquarters on Friday, witnesses reported hearing rounds of ammunition sporadically being fired.

"The corner office of the building was pretty involved when firefighters arrived on scene," said Washington County Fire Marshal John Jenkins. "The building was substantially damaged, but I think they’ll be able to salvage it."

Jenkins said firefighters responded to the Militia of Washington County, 15566 E. Black Oak Road, at about 6 a.m. Friday after a passerby reported seeing flames. The witness further reported hearing sounds ammunition being fired from inside the building.

"The fire was in the corner office of the building," Jenkins said. "It caused extensive damage in and around the office." Jenkins said the cause of the fire is currently under investigation. The blaze comes just two months before the sentencing date for Hollis Wayne Fincher, who founded the militia headquarters in 1994. Fincher served as the organization’s lieutenant commander until his arrest Nov. 9 when federal agents seized 15 illegal machine guns and sawed-off shotguns during a search of his Washington County home. All of the guns were examined and found to be in working order. Shortly after his arrest, Fincher’s supporters began an aggressive campaign to raise awareness of what they thought was an unjust arrest by posting "Free Wayne" signs and bumper stickers around Washington County. Fincher was convicted Jan. 12 of illegally possessing machine guns and possession of a firearm not registered in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record. He faces up to 20 years in federal prison and will be sentenced in the next two months.

In February, a federal judge denied a defense motion to toss out the illegal gun possession conviction against Fincher. The judge ruled that there was no basis for the defense’s motion for "arrest of judgment."

Jenkins didn’t say whether Friday’s fire was related to Fincher’s arrest, but said he was looking at a number of possibilities.

"I was on the radio this morning, and we received a call from one of our regular callers, and he told me and the listening audience that the building had burned," said Don Bright, a local resident known as a regular contributor to talk radio shows. "There’s speculation that it might be someone trying to make a point, but I don’t want to make too many projections."

Though Bright has never been a member of the Militia of Washington County, he supports their beliefs.

"I support what they stand for, which is constitutional government," he said. "I also helped raise money for Wayne’s lawyer."

The Washington County Militia is headquartered down the road from Fincher’s residence — about 5.5 miles south of Huntsville Road. According to its Web site, www.arkansasmilitia.com, the group is committed to "defending liberty and serving Washington County."

The organization holds a weekly muster every Friday at 7 p.m. that is open to the public.

From the Northwest Arkansas Times

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

what more of a point can they send? They've already denied a fair trial and said essentially the rights guaranteed by the constitution are not suitable as a defense.

Me said...

What you guys always overlook is that back in the days of the founding fathers that you revere so much, militias were organized under the supervision of the local communities. They were arms of the local government, hence the "well-regulated" part. They trained and were controlled by the local village and town leaders.

That's what militias were all about. Not this bastardization that you guys try to put forward, were ten or twelve hayseeds in storebought cammies meet at a bowling alley and declare themselves to be "Bob's militia", answerable to no one except Bob.