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March 31st, 2010
03:16 PM ET

The Hutaree among us: A Michigan town in the glare

Authorities in Michigan conduct a raid on the militia known as the Hutaree.

Authorities in Michigan conduct a raid on the militia known as the Hutaree.

Steven Gray
Time

Last Saturday, black humvees suddenly appeared in Clayton, Mich. By Sunday evening, helicopters were hovering over the small village, a 90-minute drive southwest of Detroit. "It was weird, like in a movie," recalls Dale Robinson, 59, a displaced autoworker and one of Clayton's 300 or so inhabitants. During the previous week, there had been a rumor — no one knew who started it — that residents should keep their doors and windows locked. Some residents figured an inmate might have escaped from the nearby state prison. It turns out all the commotion was over a group whose alleged leader lived in a double-wide trailer that sits down the gravel road from the local wiring plant where he worked.

That would be David B. Stone Sr., who federal authorities say is the leader of a Christian militia group called the Hutaree, which they accuse of plotting to kill law-enforcement officers in an attempt to spark a broad revolt against the U.S. government. Including raids in Ohio and Indiana over the same weekend, the authorities would arrest nine people, including Stone, his wife Tina and his son David Jr., 19. Another son, Joshua, 21, was apprehended late on Monday. The alleged Hutaree members have been charged with sedition and attempted use of weapons of mass destruction. Says Emily Robinson, 27, who works as a custodian in Clayton: "You never expect to see something so big happen in a small town like this." (See the top 10 news stories of 2009.)

Very few locals, however, were even aware of who David B. Stone Sr. was, even if they had heard of militia activity in the area. But Stone grew up in Clayton. About two decades ago, he had apparently been a member of the Michigan militia, a paramilitary group that was active in the late 1990s. He'd always been into guns. Penny Delaney recalled that when she dated Stone about 18 years ago, they would often practice shooting "by swinging the tire [and firing at its opening], to make sure you kept shooting on target." Back then, she said, "he didn't believe in killing things — at least not unless he was going to eat it."

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