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Bond set for vet who may have followed Westboro members

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2010, at 12:12 p.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, August 15, 2012, at 9:07 a.m.

WICHITA — A judge has set a $500,000 bond for a wounded Army veteran arrested in a vehicle holding guns and ammunition after he allegedly followed members of a controversial Topeka church to Wichita City Hall.

Sedgwick County sheriff's investigators plan to present their investigation to prosecutors Thursday morning, Sheriff Robert Hinshaw said today.

No charges have been filed, but the man, in his 20s, remained in the county jail this morning. He was booked into jail Tuesday evening on suspicion of stalking, false impersonation and driving with a revoked license, records showed.

Hinshaw confirmed today that when detectives found the man in a vehicle outside City Hall mid-morning Tuesday and arrested him, they saw that a van belonging to members of Westboro Baptist Church was also in the City Hall parking lot. Sheriff's detectives learned that at the time the man was parked outside City Hall, church members were inside talking with Wichita police officials, Hinshaw said.

After the meeting between Westboro members and police officials ended, police escorted the church members to the sheriff's investigations section so detectives could talk with them about the incident, Hinshaw said.

In the man's vehicle, which was backed into a City Hall parking spot, investigators found items including a rifle, a handgun and more than 90 rounds of ammunition, said a source close to the investigation.

Today, Hinshaw again declined to comment on any items in the man's vehicle but confirmed that sheriff's detectives arrested the man after a detective saw his vehicle following Westboro members.

The church protests at soldiers' funerals, claiming that war deaths are God's way of punishing the nation for immorality and for tolerance of abortion and homosexuality.

Sources said the man arrested is a decorated veteran who suffered severe wounds when an improvised bomb exploded in Afghanistan.

Reach Tim Potter at 316-268-6684 or tpotter@wichitaeagle.com.

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