A wanted militia figure who vowed that he would never be taken alive was killed by a law enforcement officer after he shot a sheriff’s deputy trying to arrest him, authorities said Tuesday.
William Milton Cooper, 58, whose anti-government radio program included Oklahoma City bomber Timothy J. McVeigh as a fan, was fatally shot at his Eager, Ariz., home after confronting deputies late Monday and shooting one of them in the head, officials said.
Deputy Robert Martinez, 40, was hospitalized in critical condition with life-threatening wounds, said Steve Volden, a state police spokesman.
Authorities said the gun battle ensued when Apache County deputies tried to arrest Cooper on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and endangerment stemming from disputes with local residents in July and September. A handgun-toting Cooper fled when the deputies identified themselves. He opened fire as two deputies closed in, Volden said.
The charges stemmed from run-ins with residents who drove up to his home atop a butte and stopped nearby, only to be confronted by a gun-toting Cooper, who demanded that they leave, Volden said. The residents were not on Cooper’s property.
Mark Potok, a spokesman for the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks militias, said Cooper was known within the movement for his short-wave radio show and a book called “Behold a Pale Horse,” in which he wrote about global conspiracies, some involving aliens.
Federal authorities said Cooper had also spent years trying to avoid capture on a 1998 arrest warrant for tax evasion.
“He had vowed that he would not be taken alive,” said Tom McCombs, a spokesman for the U.S. Marshals Service.