KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A Georgia man with a pistol on his hip told authorities he had an AK-47 rifle he was ready to use to help a group of extremists take over a Tennessee courthouse to settle a gripe against government officials.
Federal court documents say Darren Wesley Huff of Dalton, Ga., talked freely to law enforcement about his role in the plan to arrest 24 officials. He also told FBI agents, Tennessee troopers and others that he would help take over the Monroe County Courthouse in Madisonville if necessary.
Huff was arraigned Friday in Knoxville. He has pleaded not guilty to a charge of transportation of a firearm in furtherance of a civil disorder.
FBI Special Agent Mark Van Balen, who investigates domestic and international terrorism, said in a criminal complaint that Huff was wearing a pistol on his hip when stopped by Tennessee troopers and local officers on April 20 near Sweetwater.
"Huff said he was ready to die for his rights and what he believed in," Van Balen wrote.
Huff had told FBI agents a day earlier that he wanted to help Walter Fitzpatrick, a Sweetwater man who had an April 20 court appearance in Monroe County. Fitzpatrick was arrested in early April after he tried to put a Monroe County grand jury foreman under citizen's arrest.
Fitzpatrick, a military retiree who became hostile to the government two decades ago when he faced a court-martial, had been trying to get a grand jury to indict President Barack Obama for treason, The Knoxville News Sentinel reported. The newspaper reported Fitzpatrick claims Obama is not a U.S. citizen.
The complaint against Huff said troopers stopped him for a traffic violation and found he had a permit for the gun he was wearing. They issued a warning citation and told him he could go, but then he told them of his plans, the affidavit said.
Huff claimed he was a member of Oath Keepers, which the Southern Poverty Law Center's Hatewatch website identifies as an extremist anti-government group.
According to the FBI affidavit, Huff claimed he and others were going to Madisonville to help carry out citizen's arrests of 24 federal, state and local officials named in "warrants" signed by Fitzpatrick.
Later that day, FBI agents and other officers saw Huff and more than a dozen others carrying weapons outside the courthouse, ready to take over the courthouse if necessary, Van Balen said.
Huff's attorney didn't immediately return a message seeking comment.