The suspect in an Okanogan County slaying has deep ties to the militia and “sovereign citizen” movements, according to court documents and the Southern Poverty Law Center
A man in custody in Okanogan County for allegedly running over a Seattle-area couple with a pickup, killing a woman, has deep ties to the militia and anti-government movements in Washington, according to court documents, interviews and information from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).
James Faire, 55, once ran a “Militia Training Center” on a family farm near Monroe, where individuals affiliated with the “patriot” and “sovereign-citizen” movements trained with firearms. Snohomish County shut down the operation five years ago after neighbors complained of the gunfire.
Faire is accused of running over two people June 18 during a confrontation at a rural home about 20 miles east of Tonasket, where police reports and court documents indicate Faire and his partner, Angelina Nobilis, 51, had been living without permission for months.
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Killed was Debra L. Long, 51, of Issaquah, who witnesses said was run over twice, once when Faire’s pickup pulled forward to leave, and again when he backed up as another man, George Abrantes, was chasing him, according to charging documents. Abrantes, a Marysville resident, was also run over and is in serious condition at Sacred Heart Hospital in Spokane.
Long and Abrantes were friends of the man who owned the home where the incident occurred.
Faire has been charged with first-degree murder and assault with a firearm and is being held in the Okanogan County Jail. Abrantes told sheriff’s deputies that Faire had pulled a handgun at one point, according to charging documents. A .45-caliber handgun was found in his truck, the documents say.
Nobilis is charged with criminal trespass.
Both Faire and Nobilis are also charged with first-degree theft for allegedly stealing as much as $9,000 from a GoFundMe account they set up to help the homeowner’s dying wife. Richard Finegold, the homeowner, said he received only about $6,000, when the account said it had taken in $15,000 in donations, according to the charges.
Charging documents say Faire and Nobilis had befriended Michele St. Pierre, Finegold’s wife, who was diagnosed with breast cancer last year. In April 2014 she and Finegold moved to another home they owned in Stanwood so she could be closer to medical care, the documents say.
The report said Finegold told officers that Faire and Nobilis, who had been friends, started the GoFundMe account and over that winter made at least two trips to the Tonasket home to pick up items St. Pierre and Finegold needed. Finegold said he told Faire where he kept a hidden key, but he said he never gave them permission to move in, the documents said.
St. Pierre died from the cancer June 15 and, according to reports, Finegold returned with several friends to the Tonasket-area home to find it full of Faire and Nobilis’ belongings. On June 17, the day before the confrontation, Finegold reported the alleged trespass to the sheriff’s office, moved the belongings into several outbuildings and changed the locks.
The next day, Finegold was at the house when Faire and Nobilis drove up, according to the reports. There was a verbal confrontation, and Faire allegedly pulling out a handgun. Long was killed and Abrantes injured as Faire drove away.
He was arrested at Tonasket convenience store without incident, the sheriff’s office reported.
According to news accounts and Faire’s own writings on the militia website and YouTube video, Faire — a sidearm on his hip — explains and defends armed resistance to what he believes is the corrupting influence of an overreaching government “that has a monopoly on power.”
In 2009, Faire was involved in a zoning fight with Snohomish County over family property he was using as an illegal shooting range near Monroe. Eventually, the range was closed down.
During that period, however, the range came to the attention of federal agents, who described it as a “Militia Training Center” in federal court documents involving the arrest and prosecution of another self-described “sovereign citizen,” Andrew Steven Gray.
Gray, a self-proclaimed “constitutionalist and patriot” had a felony drug conviction and was charged in 2009 as a felon in possession of a firearm after traveling to Faire’s range the previous year and firing an assault-style rifle and a handgun. Gray’s storage locker turned up 21 firearms, four silencers and 9,000 rounds of ammunition. He was given a four-year sentence after pleading guilty.
Faire had said the range enabled him to become a firearms trainer for the controversial Appleseed Project, a nonprofit pro-gun movement that combines Revolutionary War and early American history with gun training. Among its goals is to “teach every American how to fire a bullet through a man-sized target out to 500 yards,” according to its website.
More than 25,000 people have gone through the program, according to a New York Times article published in 2010. The article’s author wrote that he met hundreds of shooters, many with strong views, but few impressed him like Faire.
“None seemed as close to the dark side as James Faire of Monroe, Wash.,” the article says. He described Faire as a “man obsessed with reducing the space between readiness and action to the thinnest possible line,” including practicing a quick-draw maneuver thousands of times.
Self-declared “sovereign citizens” and members of derivative “patriot” movements reject the authority of state and federal laws and courts, saying they answer instead to a Christian God, the U.S. Constitution – minus any amendments after the Bill of Rights — and the writings of some founding fathers.
Meantime, a conservative pro-gun blog called “The ReaganWing”, which claims to be the “the conservative conscience of the Republican Party” in Washington, has rushed to the defense of Faire and Nobilis, claiming they were set up by law enforcement.
The blog’s author, Doug Parris, describes Faire as a “nationally known, high-impact, open-carrying, Christian Liberty activist who has been in the crosshairs of the corrupt police-state factions of the Federal Government for years.”