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Sovereign Citizens number in the "hundreds" on the Suncoast

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Posted: Tuesday, June 10, 2014 10:44 pm

SARASOTA, Fla. -- "Anyone who thinks the Suncoast is immune to the actions of sovereign citizens is being naive."  Those are the words of Bill Warner, a Sarasota private detective whose been aware of the Sovereign Citizen movement for years.

"It's people with a mindset that the government is against its own citizens," Warner explained.

Warner is sad the movement has spilled over into violence twice in the past week, both with a courthouse incident last Friday in Atlanta where Dennis Marx shot a deputy before being shot and killed himself.  And then the Sunday shooting of two officers and a Walmart shopper in Las Vegas.

He says make no mistake, this is domestic terrorism.

"Absolutely, it's organized through the internet, and Facebook, and that's how they get bigger an bigger, Warner said.

How big? The Southern Poverty Law Center estimates the Sovereign Citizens movement is up to 300,000 people, and Warner says that should break down to several hundred along the Suncoast.

"I'm sure it grew even more so after the Sarasota Police Detective was fired," he said.

Warner is referring to a former homicide detective Tom Laughlin who lost his job in 2010 after declaring himself a sovereign citizen.

"I'm sure more people will use that as a reason to join this moment because he was fired because of his views of being a sovereign citizen, who that really stokes it up," Warner said. 

The Sarasota Police Department Media Liaison Genevieve Judge said no one was available to speak on the issue of sovereign citizens. Her counterpart at the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office, Wendy Rose, said no one would be would address the issue due to the nature of the topic.

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