MISSOULA – A manhunt was on Monday in the northwestern Montana woods for a former militia leader who authorities say fired on deputies and previously told police “he wasn’t going to be taken down like last time.”
Police have been searching for David Burgert since Sunday morning, after he fled in his Jeep when officers stopped to make a check on a vehicle at a picnic site near Lolo on U.S. Highway 12.
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. Project 7 allegedly plotted to assassinate local officials, go to war with the National Guard and overthrow the federal government.
Burgert served time in the Federal Bureau of Prisons on weapons charges before being released on probation. Prior to his sentencing, he was diagnosed with paranoid personality disorder.
Last week, he was stopped by the Montana Highway Patrol for a moving violation, and he told patrolmen then “he wasn’t going to be taken down like last time,” and “it would take a SWAT team” to bring him in, Missoula County Undersheriff Mike Dominick told the Missoulian.
On Sunday, officers pursued Burgert until he pulled his Jeep over before the mountain divide where Graves Creek becomes Petty Creek. Burgert jumped out and fired his handgun at the deputies, Dominick said.
The deputies fired back. Nobody was reported to be injured.
Burgert then grabbed gear out of the Jeep and fled on foot to the northeast.
A manhunt went on into late Sunday, and residents were warned that Burgert was extremely dangerous.
“He is still on the move,” Dominick said. “But we don’t believe anyone is helping him. We believe he is doing this on his own.”
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