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article imageArmed Veteran arrested, allegedly stalks Westboro Church members

By Kim I. Hartman     Dec 1, 2010 in Crime
Wichita - Authorities in Kansas have arrested a decorated Army veteran and double-amputee after he followed members of the controversial Westboro Baptist Church from a demonstration. He was found in a vehicle reportedly stocked with weapons.
In the man's vehicle, which was backed into a spot in the City Hall parking lot, investigators allegedly found items including a rifle, a handgun and more than 90 rounds of ammunition, according to the Wichita Eagle.
Sedgwick County Sheriff Bob Hinshaw told KAKE-TV in Wichita that authorities pulled over Ryan Newell, 26, of Marion, in downtown Wichita after noticing his vehicle following a vehicle carrying members of Westboro Baptist. The church members participated Tuesday morning in a protest at Mulvane High School.
Hinshaw said Newell told authorities he was providing security for the church members and that he was a reserve law enforcement officer in another county. Deputies called that county and then arrested Newell in the Wichita City Hall parking lot. Members of Westboro Baptist were inside city hall speaking with law enforcement officers.
Sedgwick County jail records show Ryan Newell, 26, of Marion, was booked into jail on charges including stalking, driving on revoked license and false impersonation. Records show his bond is set at $500,000.
Newell lost both of his legs in a roadside bomb explosion in Afghanistan. He was profiled on KAKE News in April when the group "Homes For Our Troops" designed and built a home for him.
A law enforcement official, in the man's home town of Marion, said he is considered a hero there because of his service and sacrifice in the war, added the Wichita Eagle.
"It's shocking that this is even happening," the official said of the arrest.
The man "seemed just like a likable, good person ... who loves and cares for his country and the laws of his country," the official said.
The Fred Phelps family, who make up the majority of the membership of Topeka's Westboro Baptist Church, was recently in McAlester, Oklahoma where they found their tires slashed, upon returning to their vehicles, after another of their infamous demonstrations at the funeral of a fallen United States military soldier, killed in war.
Many on the Internet are asking if this show of recent violence or potential violence against this disliked group, who espouse hate directed towards the Gay and Lesbian communities, is a preview of something worse to come.
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