Wednesday, February 8th, 2023
Wednesday, February 8th, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Montana manhunt for former militia leader in third day

Local and federal law enforcement officers are out
hunting in western Montana, but it’s not deer or elk they’re
after

Here is the latest, from Associated Press… 

LOLO, Mont. (AP) – A manhunt continues in a
western Montana forest for a former militia leader accused of
firing on Missoula County deputies and then fleeing into the woods,
where authorities say they’ve found caches of weapons, food and
gear.

Missoula County Undersheriff Mike Dominick said ex-convict David
Burgert, 47, appears to have had a plan following the exchange of
gunfire Sunday along a logging trail after a slow-speed chase near
Lolo on U.S. Highway 12.

Dominick said police found a second vehicle in the area loaded
with ammunition and food and are searching for a third vehicle they
believe Burgert might also be using.

Officials involved in the search believe Burgert might have been
able to escape the area in that vehicle, a 1987 Jeep Wagoneer,
Flathead County Sheriff Chuck Curry said.

Burgert is the former leader of a Flathead County militia group
known as Project 7, named for the number “7” on Flathead County
license plates in Montana. Project 7 allegedly plotted to
assassinate local officials, go to war with the National Guard and
overthrow the federal government.

“I could best describe him as a bully,” Curry said. “He’s one
of those people you’re constantly dealing with – confrontations
with law enforcement, confrontations with neighbors.”

Burgert is 6 feet 2 inches tall, weighs 230 pounds, and has
brown eyes and brown hair. He was last seen wearing a bluish shirt
and a fanny pack and is believed to be armed with a handgun and
possibly a rifle. Authorities believe he had been living out of a
vehicle in the area, and searchers have discovered several caches
of food in the search area, Dominick said.

Agents from the FBI and U.S. Marshals Service; Missoula police;
Missoula County sheriff’s deputies; and law enforcement officers
from the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and the
Montana National Guard were looking for Burgert in a rugged,
sparsely populated area of Lolo National Forest, Dominick said.

A National Guard helicopter and a police dog were brought in to
assist the searchers, totaling 65 personnel in all.

Authorities have been contacting Burgert’s former associates in
case he attempts to return to Kalispell, his former home, Curry
said Tuesday.

Curry was in charge of the Flathead SWAT team when Burgert was
subject to a similar manhunt in February 2002.

Prior that incident Burgert had attempted to stage his death
along the Kalispell River to escape authorities. When officers
later pulled over a vehicle Burgert was driving with his girlfriend
as a passenger, Curry said Burgert bailed out and ran through the
woods, sparking an all-night chase that ended the next morning with
Burgert cornered and holding a gun to his head.

After a standoff of several hours, Burgert surrendered, Curry
said.

He was sentenced in 2004 to 10 years in prison.

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