They caught him

A couple weeks ago I posted about a guy staying out in woods and damaging logging equipment.  The suspect is in the local county jail now.  I’m glad no one got hurt as it seemed likely at the time.  The suspect said he wanted to kill some cops.  I had done some brainstorming with my brother about this and hadn’t come up with the solution they used although one would have thought that two electrical engineers would have been the first to thing of it.  From the Lewiston Morning Tribune:

Sheriff reels in Weippe suspect

of the Tribune

“He took the bait.”

That’s how Clearwater County Sheriff Alan Hengen Tuesday described the early morning arrest of 34-year-old David Pruss in the woods about one and a half miles northwest of Weippe.

“We knew he liked coffee.”

Pruss, who’d been wanted for the better part of three months on a warrant for alleged malicious destruction of property and burglary, remained in the county jail at Orofino Tuesday night and could face additional charges, Hengen said.

The sheriff and his deputies had been chasing a suspect since early June who allegedly had shot up some logging equipment, broken into a number of cabins and buildings and otherwise eluded authorities.

Hengen said deputies learned that the suspect seemed to always steal coffee when he had a chance. So they placed a “signaling unit” in the bottom of a plastic can of coffee, and put the can in a building where the suspect had previously entered several times.

“We tried a lot of things, but that one worked,” Hengen said. Within a week, the can of coffee was gone. Homing in on the signal from the coffee can, deputies were able to triangulate an approximate location, said Hengen, and Tuesday’s predawn raid was organized. Two dog teams and 17 enforcement officers entered the forested area and closed in on the location, the sheriff said. They found a hut made of poles that were tied together and covered with pine boughs.

“We got him while he was sleeping,” Hengen said. He said Pruss at first refused to come out of the hut and deputies used pepper spray. According to a press release from the sheriff’s office, Pruss was “believed to have been reaching” for a Mac-90 assault rifle that was found underneath him. Hengen said a .357-caliber magnum revolver also was found.

“He had like a tent in there,” Hengen said of the hut, which he described as about 6-feet square.

Deputies also found military and SWAT-type clothing, said Hengen, similar to clothing worn by a suspect that appears in a surveillance camera photo taken more than a month ago where logging equipment had been shot up. According to the press release, other items allegedly taken from the logging site were found where Pruss was arrested.

Pruss, formerly of Utah and Montana, came to Weippe about a year ago, according to residents in town. Authorities said he is thought to have ties to fringe militia groups. Hengen said earlier this month that he feared the suspect they were seeking was trying to lure his deputies into an ambush. According to the news release, Pruss “is believed to have told others 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 first week in June, Hengen’s department had been investigating several burglaries and reports of property being destroyed. There had been damage to power transformers, phone pedestals, a small hydroelectric plant and the logging equipment, according to the news release. Several businesses and residences also had been burglarized, authorities said.

Total damage is estimated to have exceeded $100,000, Hengen said.

Weippe residents earlier this month voiced mixed thoughts about the suspect, some saying he was harmless and others expressing disgust that someone was shooting up logging equipment. Many people said they were locking their doors for the first time.

Hengen said the destruction of property seemed to trail off over the past few weeks and he thinks the suspect was “just trying to wait us out.” Most of the logging equipment that had been damaged belonged to Kenneth Miller, whose equipment and vehicles had been located at a site in the Winters Creek area near Weippe.

In addition to sheriff deputies, Hengen said U.S. Forest Service personnel and members of Clearwater County Search and Rescue participated in numerous searches for the suspect.

Authorities ask that anyone finding more hut-like structures in the woods around Weippe call the sheriff’s office and stay away from the structures. The same goes for any equipment, clothing or other stored items that might be found.