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“I WAS ALWAYS WITHIN EYESIGHT OF DARREN HUFF”
by Sharon Rondeau
(Jun. 21, 2013) — On June 19, 2013, The Post & Email spoke with William R. Looman, who was with Darren Wesley Huff throughout the day and evening of April 20, 2010 and produced a notarized affidavit to the events that day in Madisonville, TN, the day on which Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III attended a short assignment hearing at the Monroe County courthouse located in Madisonville. Huff had traveled to Madisonville and locked his legally-owned firearms in his truck before entering a restaurant located across from the courthouse with Looman, who also secured his firearms before exiting his vehicle.
On April 30, Huff was arrested on two federal firearms charges after numerous eyewitnesses were interviewed following Fitzpatrick’s hearing ten days before. Huff was convicted on one charge on October 28, 2011 and is currently imprisoned at the federal prison in Texarkana, TX.
On April 19 and 20, 2010, members of a pro-Obama online group, The Fogbow, called then-Madisonville Mayor Allan Watson to convey false “threats” allegedly posed by Fitzpatrick which had, in fact, never been uttered.
Despite mainstream news reports which failed to interview eyewitnesses, there were no threats made, confrontations with law enforcement, or arrests effected on April 20. Law enforcers had been present in an unusual showing that day of approximately 100 combined FBI, TBI, local police, sheriffs’ deputies, Tennessee Highway Patrol, and a sniper team on the roof of the courthouse. However, an affidavit from an FBI agent signed six days later stated that “at least a dozen” individuals were armed and planned to “take over the courthouse” with Darren Huff as their ringleader.
Huff’s arrest ten days later was based on the agent‘s “personal knowledge and observations” despite the agent’s second-hand account, lack of identification of law enforcement officers upon whose information he reportedly relied, and incorrect date and location of some of the events described.
Darren Huff has been incarcerated since October 18, 2011, when the jury found him guilty on one of the two counts with which he was charged. The jury initially acquitted Huff on one charge and produced a “hung” verdict on the other but was advised by Judge Thomas Varlan to “try again,” after which it produced a “guilty” verdict.
Since at least 2009, the federal government has been applying extra scrutiny to Second Amendment advocates, Christians, military veterans, members of various Tea Party groups, traditional marriage supporters, and “conservatives” in general as evidenced by the IRS, Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security (DHS), FBI and Department of Justice. White male veterans appear to be a specific target.
Huff is white, male, Christian, veteran, pro-Second Amendment citizen and member of the Oathkeepers, which has been demonized by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). The SPLC works in concert with the Obama regime to marginalize Americans who ascribe to some of the above beliefs and value systems.
Our interview with Looman follows.
THE POST & EMAIL: Did you hear that anyone would be carrying guns illegally or with the intent to do harm on April 20?
MR. LOOMAN: No. Darren and I both knew that we would be carrying weapons because we both held legal conceal-carry permits and we have reciprocity. To be frank with you, I don’t go anywhere without a weapon, whether it’s Wal-Mart or Madisonville, TN.
THE POST & EMAIL: Do you recall what time you arrived in Madisonville?
MR. LOOMAN: Not off the top of my head; it was three years ago. It was in the morning, and I was about 30 minutes behind Darren when he got pulled over. I had been on the cell phone with him. I was about ten minutes behind him at one point, and then I pulled over, remembering that I had two five-gallon diesel jugs in the back of my truck that were empty. To eliminate the possibility, if there were law enforcement there (and I didn’t know that there would be) of them thinking that I was coming in to do something stupid, I pulled off an exit and got rid of the diesel cans in a dumpster about 20 miles outside of Madisonville. I didn’t want the local populace or officers or whoever thinking that I was coming in to burn down something. So I ended up 30 minutes behind him, and I was on the phone coming off the exit from I-75, and he said, “Hey, I have to go; I’m being pulled over.”
So I said, “OK,” and I hung up. That’s when I called Carl Swensson, who I had met before. I knew he was going to be in the area. He pulled over and took video of the traffic stop. He told me that the officers actually were approaching him and driving around him as he was taking the video, and he felt intimidated.
THE POST & EMAIL: I remember receiving a call from Carl after Darren was stopped. How long did you spend talking to Carl?
MR. LOOMAN: About 15-20 minutes. By the time I pulled off the same exit, they had just wrapped up their discussion and released Darren. He had been sitting there for a few minutes and called me back and said, “They cut me loose and had no problem with me.” At the time, he knew his rights; he knew he was allowed to carry; he told them that he had weapons. They asked him to secure those weapons in another part of the vehicle, and he did that, and they basically let him proceed.
THE POST & EMAIL: We know for a fact that he drove to Madisonville.
MR. LOOMAN: I know he did, because I followed him there.
THE POST & EMAIL: So at that point, you caught up to him. Did you literally follow him into Madisonville?
MR. LOOMAN: Yes. Not only did I follow him, but there were at least two police cars following me. I told Darren, “Observe that speed limit, do not swerve; go straight there.” So I followed him until there was a left turn into Madisonville. I forget the name of the road. At point he pulled over. Then he and the guy who was with him got out, and I got out. Then Darren said, “I want my flags.” He had “Don’t Tread on Me” flags, and he had just gotten done putting “Oathkeepers” all over his truck in vinyl yellow lettering; it was a beautiful truck. He wanted to set it off with some flags. So we took three-quarter-inch conduit to make it easy to put them up and down. It was more for show.
We eased into Madisonville and Darren parked his truck on the corner in a parking space near Donna’s Old Towne Cafe. So he had it displayed out there. People saw the truck; they loved it; they wanted pictures of him beside it and of them with him beside it, and Darren was eating it up. They were all civilians; I don’t think anybody was posing as a civilian but actually was law enforcement. I’ve been to a lot of rallies and done a lot of public speaking, and I think I can tell the difference now.
THE POST & EMAIL: What happened from the moment Darren exited his truck to the moment he left Madisonville?
MR. LOOMAN: I had parked my vehicle, which had an Oathkeepers logo on it, and then he and I went into the cafe, as we were running late. There were other supporters of Walt there saying that the hearing was either almost over or over, I’m not sure which. Because we were running late, we just kind-of hung out there. Carl was there, and I said, “He almost got arrested just coming in to town,” and we talked about how overwhelming the security was.
After being ten years in the Marine Corps and going to numerous events, I can say that they way overstepped.
THE POST & EMAIL: Why do you think there was such a large police presence?
MR. LOOMAN: Walt is very much a political activist, and my personal opinion is that he touched a nerve in the good old boys’ system when he became refocused on what was happening locally. When he did that, he started rooting out dirt.
THE POST & EMAIL: How many law enforcement people would you say were there?
MR. LOOMAN: Counting the ones in the helicopters, I’d say about 60.
THE POST & EMAIL: Did they seem to be in pursuit of someone?
MR. LOOMAN: No, ma’am.
THE POST & EMAIL: What were they doing there?
MR. LOOMAN: There were SUVs parked around the main courthouse. A couple of helicopters were flying over; there were guards at the courthouse and two at the main door of the courthouse. There was a lot of traffic, and a lot of police were cruising around. The Sons of Liberty was represented there; Oathkeepers was represented there by Darren and me. I also saw two individuals in woodland pattern who were unshaven, kind-of scruffy-looking, who for all I know could have been cops or militia. My first impression was, “These cops need to watch that guy,” or “These cops need to watch this guy.” They were walking around with a “don’t-see-me” attitude which was very obvious. But I didn’t see anybody with weapons.
I was seeing just the cops, who were strategically-placed in case something happened at the main courthouse. I still don’t know where Walt’s hearing was or how many cops were there. The cops were all over where we were, which was a logical location for a hit. That’s where there was a lot presence, and I saw the two helicopters which were different models and marked differently. What I saw there was, in my opinion, people waiting in case something were to happen and they were there as a backup force to react in case something happened at the hearing building. A lot of them were in SUVs. There were a couple of cops inside the cafe. There was one officer that a local identified as a jailer, and he actually rubbed up against Darren Huff with an attitude, and Darren just kind-of blew him off.
THE POST & EMAIL: Would you characterize the jailer as looking for trouble?
MR. LOOMAN: Yes.
THE POST & EMAIL: But Darren let it go?
MR. LOOMAN: Yes, he let it roll off his back. He was reliving what happened when he was stopped, talking about Oathkeepers and a little bit of religion. So he was kind-of a showman at that stage.
THE POST & EMAIL: When you said the two scruffy-looking men could have been “militia,” what does that mean?
MR. LOOMAN: They appeared to be militia, but for all I know, they could have been cops. As a Marine and one who is used to wearing the uniform, their uniforms were unkempt. If anything, I’d say they were “wash-‘n’-wear” militia.
Militias have been given a negative connotation since the Oklahoma City bombing. To this day, in my opinion, it’s another way of saying “racist” to strike fear in the hearts of some uninformed people. Obviously, they weren’t there to start an incident, and they weren’t in large numbers. They weren’t marching in and brandishing weapons, but they may have been there to support Walt and civil rights. I know a lot of militia, a lot of Oathkeepers, a lot of Sons of Liberty, and they are very honorable people who don’t want to start anything. But if a fight is started, they won’t back off, either. The two I saw, if they were militia, were just walking around the neighborhood in support of Darren in case something happened.
THE POST & EMAIL: How long were you in the cafe?
MR. LOOMAN: At least a couple of hours. As a joke, I said, “Let’s go buy ’em biscuits.” So we bought biscuits at the cafe, put them in a bag, and tried to hand them to what looked like federal agents kitty-corner across the street, but they refused them. So we took the bag and handed them to the guards and the local boys at the courthouse. They look like they eat well. They grabbed ’em up and took ’em inside. It was my way of trying to calm things down. They made sure they got a good look at me, and I wanted to get a good look at them, and I wanted to give them the proper body language so they would know we weren’t a threat. They could see that none of us were packing concealed; none of us had our weapons on us.
THE POST & EMAIL: After the two hours, did everybody decide to break and go home?
MR. LOOMAN: Walt was released, and he came over and met with us at the cafe. After talking to him and the crowd was leaving, Darren and I decided that we needed to move on. We had actually gotten a call from someone that Stewart Rhodes, the head of Oathkeepers, was going to be in Knoxville. So I said, “Let’s go to Knoxville and meet Stewart Rhodes.” He’s the one who founded Oathkeepers. The president of the Tennessee Oathkeepers, who was also a board member, was going to be there; he was also a Marine – a Marine sniper.
THE POST & EMAIL: Were they going to be speaking to a group that night?
MR. LOOMAN: They were actually having an Oathkeepers meeting that night. Stewart happened to be in town visiting the president of the Tennessee chapter, and they caught wind of what was going on down there, because we had corresponded back and forth. Stewart, Rand, Darren and I met in the parking lot in back of the Cracker Barrel restaurant before the meeting. He had the misconception that our being involved in Madisonville might embarrass him in some way or create a flash point. At the same time, the day before, the group was gathering in support of an armed rally on the Virginia border, next to DC. Stewart Rhodes and the Oathkeepers have been under attack from the Southern Poverty Law Center [SPLC] for years.
THE POST & EMAIL: I’ve seen that on their website.
MR. LOOMAN: So they’re always doing damage control, trying not to embarrass themselves. He was worried that the name would get out, that some Oathkeepers were involved in the situation with Walt, and that it would embarrass them if things went south.
THE POST & EMAIL: But nothing happened?
MR. LOOMAN: No. Even the Sons of Liberty who were there – one of them said, “If I had known it was going to this stupid, I would have pulled my weapon out and put it on my side.” But nothing happened; there were no weapons presented. I can’t say it enough, to be honest with you. I was confused about this whole thing…I thought Darren was arrested on April 30 for what was happening on April 30.
THE POST & EMAIL: The affidavit says nothing about the 30th; I have a hard copy here. It says that he drove to Madisonville on April 20, 2010 with the intent to cause a civil disturbance with his firearms. District Attorney General R. Steven Bebb is quoted as having said, “It was the tensest day we ever had.”
MR. LOOMAN: They created a scenario which made them tense and overstepped their budget. I’m going to use an analogy: I’m home and it’s 3:00 a.m., and my wife isn’t home yet. There are two things that would go through my mind: either she’s cheating on me, or she’s been in a wreck. And I would be wound up like a banjo string when she pulls up in the driveway and I find out that it was just a flat.
That’s what they did to themselves; there was no intent. Darren popped off because he’s a showman. I told this to the FBI. He is all talk. He’s a Navy veteran who may or may not be impressed with Marines. I told them, “You don’t have to worry about Darren. He is harmless unless he’s been trained by somebody – and he has not been trained by anybody.” Darren’s primary focus is to get the Word of God out. People always fear the conversation about the Word of God.
THE POST & EMAIL: Do you have any idea what gave Monroe County the idea that they had to call such a heavy police presence that day?
MR. LOOMAN: I’m going to be honest: I think Darren popped off at the mouth. He’s a showman; I can’t reiterate that enough.
THE POST & EMAIL: When do you think he might have said something that would have caused concern?
MR. LOOMAN: From what the agents told me – and I kind-of rolled my eyes and said to myself, “What an idiot” – that he had made a statement in a bank to a friend of his that ended up not being such a good friend, that he was intending, with help, to go up and perform the citizens’ arrests, and he had warrants in hand, that Walt Fitzpatrick had not been able to perform.
So that’s why on the night before he got a visit from his FBI friend – he had one FBI friend – and the reason I know that that guy showed up was his wife was in a panic and sent me the guy’s number and said, “You need to talk to this guy. My husband isn’t a bad guy,” and she gave me his number. Then I put his number on the internet and said, “This is happening; this is the FBI agent’s number,” and I made him famous. The reason I know that is that when I had my visit from the FBI, they said, “Here’s our number; do not put it on the internet. Do we have your word?” and I said, “I will not put it on the internet. You don’t want to be famous like that guy, do you?” (laughs)
THE POST & EMAIL: Did Darren describe the FBI agent’s visit to you at all?
MR. LOOMAN: We talked on the phone after he got the visit, and I told him, “Don’t worry about it; just chill out; they’re just checking you out, and they’re well within their duties to do so.” Then we talked about it over the next few days, because after I got my visit, I had to tell him what I said. So, yes, we discussed it. Keep in mind: the whole time, I was trying to do two things: I was trying to calm Darren down a little bit, and he knows this, because I told him he needed to back up and readjust how you present yourself. At the same time, I was trying to recruit Darren because he’s a very good speaker, very eloquent; he can get his point across if he is focused on one topic.
THE POST & EMAIL: What were you trying to get him to be a spokesman for?
MR. LOOMAN: I was trying to get him to be a spokesman for Oathkeepers. He was good at it. With a shave, he would have definitely impressed a lot of people at a lot of speaking engagements. He would have been a poster boy for Oathkeepers if he had taken guidance on how he should present himself. For any speaking engagement I get stuck with, I always get out the things I do that I think are important: taking care of family and getting to know your neighbors, working from the neighborhood out for protection. There’s nobody out here who can guarantee the position of being the one riding George Washington’s horse. You shouldn’t be looking for notoriety; you shouldn’t be looking for grandeur; you should be trying to protect what’s home. If you end up stuck as an elected politician, you consider it an honor, or if you end up being the general in a revolution, you consider it an honor, or if you end up being the guy who jumps on a hand grenade to save his platoon’s life, it should be an honor. But Darren seemed to be in pursuit of notoriety, and I think that’s mostly what got him in trouble. It wasn’t his skill set; it wasn’t that he wasn’t abiding by the law, because when the cops told him, “Please put his stuff away and lock it up,” he did it immediately. He told me to do the same with mine; I had two weapons in my vehicle. Out of courtesy, not because it was unlawful, I secured my weapons and I did not carry.
THE POST & EMAIL: And you were not arrested.
MR. LOOMAN: I wasn’t arrested. Marines are a little better trained than Navy, and we know our skill set. Locking a weapon up, you know that you need to secure your skill.
THE POST & EMAIL: Are you accustomed to carrying all the time?
MR. LOOMAN: Yes, I’m always carrying. My wife carries; I carry; most of my neighborhood carries; most of my county carries, just as a carpenter would carry a hammer.
THE POST & EMAIL: Did the FBI interview you before April 20 or after?
MR. LOOMAN: It was a few days after but before Darren’s arrest.
THE POST & EMAIL: [Which was April 30.]
MR. LOOMAN: I have the agent’s name. My sheriff wouldn’t let them come to my house, so we met at a local truck stop and they ate. They asked me if I perceived Darren as a threat and they wanted to know if he was a member of the militia, and he was; he was a chaplain in the militia here in Georgia. They wanted to know his background, how we met; they wanted to know if I knew anything about his training. With a lot of the questions, they wanted to know my opinion of Darren: “Do you think Darren would do this or that? Does Darren have a propensity for violence?” – those kinds of things.
One guy – I’ll call him “Mike” – was the older gentleman who was playing “good cop” and throwing out those questions, and the younger one – I’ll call him “College Boy,” was the one taking all the notes. They sat there and ate. I didn’t eat; I sat there and drank some sweet tea. Mike told me about his roles; he said he had cancer. They went through a series of questions, and I knew where they were going. They were trying to get me to say that Darren was a nut-bag and was going to shoot people. They gently guided me through questions, and I never gave them an indication that that would be the case.
THE POST & EMAIL: And was that because you did not believe that he would?
MR. LOOMAN: I don’t think he had it in him, to be honest with you. If Darren was sitting in the house and somebody came in his house, he would not hesitate to eliminate that threat. But honestly, I think the only thing he’s aggressive about is trying to recruit for God. I say this because he’s been over at my house, and I said, “Dude, you’re preaching to the choir,” because he was trying to talk my wife into a version of Christianity she was already a member of.
THE POST & EMAIL: So he likes to talk.
MR. LOOMAN: He loves to talk, and he’s very structured. He doesn’t realize that he’s talking to somebody who is a Christian, who believes in God, because all the time he’s so focused on recruiting.
THE POST & EMAIL: Perhaps he feels that that’s his mission.
MR. LOOMAN: I honestly think that is the perfect way of saying it. It’s probably his calling, and wherever he’s at, he’s going to find an audience.
THE POST & EMAIL: At that point, Darren was not arrested. Did you get the idea that they already suspected him of having committed a crime?
MR. LOOMAN: No, I got the idea that they were focused on that he was going to commit a crime and they wanted some indication that that was going to happen.
THE POST & EMAIL: Were you surprised when you heard that Darren Huff had been arrested?
MR. LOOMAN: Part of me was and part of me wasn’t. Part of me was surprised because I knew Darren to be of good character, but the other part of me wasn’t because Darren has a tendency to pop off at the mouth and say things that just are not true. I’m not saying Darren was lying; I’m saying that Darren was thinking that there was a possibility that he or someone would be able to complete a mission that Walt had started. That actually came from Darren. Darren and I had a number of discussions, and I was all the time trying to pull the reins back on this, saying, “Walt’s got it under control. He knows what he’s doing. Obviously he does; he has paperwork that speaks volumes about his ability to figure out this legal system; he was an officer in the Navy and a very honorable person. Even Stewart Rhodes can be critical on only one point: that some sort of paper that he should have filed to assure that the citizen’s arrest was performed correctly and that Walt overlooked. So there was one little loophole that Walt missed, in Stewart Rhodes’s opinion.
But I was constantly pulling Darren back, and even Walt sent out an email saying, “Stand down. I’ve got it under control.” But all the time, Darren was saying, “We’re going to finish this. We’re going to complete these citizens’ arrests.” I used Athens, TN as an example, when the World War II vets came back. I said, “You have to let the neighborhood take care of the neighborhood. If there’s corruption, you identify it and bring it out, but the community that actually lives there has to act on it.”
But he did want to, all the time, finish the citizens’ arrests. I think when he saw Walt get arrested, he was a little traumatized and he wanted to finish the arrests, and I was pulling him back.
THE POST & EMAIL: Did Darren ever mention bringing firearms with the purpose of completing the citizens’ arrests or doing anything violent?
MR. LOOMAN: No, ma’am.
THE POST & EMAIL: Did you attend Darren’s federal trial in October 2011?
MR. LOOMAN: No, ma’am, because I wasn’t invited. I fully expected to have a subpoena served. As a matter of fact, a close friend of mine who is also an activist named John Bigham was served, and he testified. This is not a small circle; this is a big circle. We happened to interact in a way that has put everybody together. John was served, and he testified, and he got a little aggressive on the stand, which I’m sure did not go over well from what he told me.
But I fully expected to be there. Think about it: I had already been to the event and was there on April 20. I haven’t brought this up, but about five days before, I went up there with Darren. We did a video interview with Walt where Walt started talking and there was a lot of traffic going through; it’s a really good video. Then we went up on April 20, and you always want to know what is going on. I fully expected to be there testifying because I could have answered questions such as “Did Darren sneak out the window?” to which I would have said, “Well, Darren is kind-of big, and the window is kind-of small.”
THE POST & EMAIL: Did you and Darren leave town together?
MR. LOOMAN: Yes. We weren’t in the same vehicle; I was 20-30 feet behind him in my vehicle, and then we went to Knoxville.
THE POST & EMAIL: Did you ever hear Darren say the words “take over the courthouse?”
MR. LOOMAN: No. To add to that, there is no way, based on what I have read on the internet or been provided by Walt Fitzpatrick, that that officer who swore out the affidavit who said he witnessed Darren at that building is telling the truth, because he was with me. The officer is lying and in my opinion, is an oath-breaker.
THE POST & EMAIL: He’s an FBI agent named Mark van Balen, and he said that his statements were second-hand and gleaned from unnamed public officials. He also stated that “at least a dozen individuals” were walking around the courthouse armed, but he doesn’t name any of them, either.
MR. LOOMAN: The only armed individuals who were concealing and in plain sight with weapons were law enforcement. Even the militia guys I spoke of earlier, I looked, and I looked hard, had no concealed bulges in their uniforms.
THE POST & EMAIL: Did those two men ever resurface before you left Madisonville?
MR. LOOMAN: No, and I’ve been to 20 speaking engagements across seven or eight states and have not seen them there. As time goes on, it makes me wonder if they were just dressed-up agents trying to look like the public’s vision of a militia. If they want to know what a militia guy looks like, then the NSA, the FBI, and the Department of Homeland Security need to hire me and I’ll teach ’em. (laughs)
The militia members I know are decked out; they all have a presence; most of them have prior service; some of them are current. Some of them just want to be patriotic. For the most part, they have a military presence about them that Walt smells; I smell; even Darren will smell or can sense. Those guys almost looked like homeless guys – wash-n-wear – they weren’t kept. It’s the difference between the Santa Claus at J.C. Penney’s and the real Santa Claus.
THE POST & EMAIL: Do you remember when you heard that Darren was convicted?
MR. LOOMAN: It was the day he was convicted.
THE POST & EMAIL: Have you heard from Darren at all since he’s been in prison?
MR. LOOMAN: No, ma’am. My opinion is that Darren is falsely accused. I think the officers blatantly lied to create an event so that they would have something to point at and say, “Look, this is how bad the conservatives are.” You know how many Tea Party events there are; there’s one going on right now. There isn’t going to be any violence or litter unless the other side comes unglued. But they needed a poster child to convict Darren; that’s my opinion.
I’ll tell you this: Darren was convicted of a thought crime that a Marine was holding him back on. And even if I wasn’t holding him back, I don’t think he would have been volatile. I don’t think he would have done anything other than look for Walt’s guidance. If Walt had said, “Step back, sailor,” he would have stepped back.
Editor’s Notes: Looman told The Post & Email that Huff was not a “Sovereign Citizen” because he paid taxes, had operated a business with a license, carried a driver’s license and registered his vehicles according to the law prior to his incarceration. “True “Sovereigns” don’t do those things,” Looman said.
Carl Swensson, who was present in Madisonville on April 20 and a witness for the prosecution at Huff’s trial told The Post & Email:
Prosecuting attorney Will Mackey [sic]…appeared extremely ineffective…as he, time after time, attempted to show that those in attendance on April 20th were wild eyed, crazy conspiracy theorists…
However, this case is no laughing matter as it will set precedence for future “Thought Crimes” prosecutions.