David Pruss arrested near Weippe
Wanted subject David Edward Pruss was arrested this morning at 7:30 northwest of Weippe by Clearwater County Sheriff's Deputies assisted by Idaho Department of Fish and Game officers, U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement, K9s and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, according to a CCSO release.
Pruss was tracked to a self-built structure or hut in the woods. He was arrested there with out incident.
Since approximately the first week of June 2005 Clearwater County Sheriff's Department has been investigating several incidences of burglaries and malicious destruction of property that occurred in the Weippe area. These incidences include damage to power transformers, phone pedestals, hydro plant and logging equipment, as well as burglaries in some residences and business also in Weippe. The estimated damage totals in excess of $100,000, and left residents in and near Weippe without telephone and power service on several occasions. The largest single victim was Kenneth Miller whose logging equipment and vehicles located at a logging site near Winters Creek in Clearwater County were broken into or shot multiple times causing significant damage and financial loss.
A felony warrant for malicious destruction of property and burglary was issued for a David Pruss. He is 34 years old, approximately 5'6" and 155 pounds with brown hair and hazel eyes. Pruss is a native of Utah and Montana. Deputies believe he has ties to fringe militia groups including the Militia of Montana and Neo-Nazi organizations. He is also believed to have told others of his intent was to damage public infrastructure in order to lure Clearwater County Sheriff's Deputies into the woods for the purpose of picking them off.
Since the issuance of this warrant, CCSO has been actively searching the area around Weippe where Pruss was believed to be staying. Deputies along with U.S. Forest Service personnel, Clearwater County Search and their Rescue K9 units spent many man-hours searching wooded areas, homes, barns, and abandoned structures to no avail. Information the department received was Pruss was most likely living off the land and in a homemade hut. Following several break-ins at a specific Weippe residence, the Sheriff's Office placed surveillance equipment in and around that area. After monitoring this equipment and footprints, deputies were sure Pruss was in the wooded area north of Weippe. Burglaries and thefts from the home in question included food and supplies. Anticipating continued thefts, deputies placed a signaling unit in a coffee container, which within one week was taken from the home. Utilizing the signal from the unit, deputies triangulated the approximate location of the signaling unit and organized an early morning raid, which took place this morning. With the use of two dog teams and 17 law enforcement personnel they were able to find Pruss' hut, a structure of poles tied together and covered with pine boughs. Pruss was found within the hut.
Also located were a Mac-90 assault type rifle and a 357-magnum revolver. The assault rifle was located underneath Pruss as he was extracted from the structure, and he is believed to have been reaching for it when Sheriff's Deputies executed his arrest. Also located were military and SWAT type clothing believed to have been worn by Pruss when he was caught on surveillance cameras entering the logging site which was the location of the majority of the damaged and burglarized equipment. Items believed to have come from these and other burglarized locations were also located.
The Sheriff's Department is confident there are probably more huts built in the area by Pruss, together with cached stores of goods and equipment. They are asking anyone who comes upon one of these to please stay away from the site and contact the Clearwater County Sheriff's Office immediately at 208-476-4521.
Photos: Top--David Edward Pruss booking photo; Second--Surveillance photo with Miller logging equipment;Third--Hut where Pruss was arrested; Bottom--Guns found in hut (Photos courtesy of Clearwater County Sheriffs Department)
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