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Sheriff: 'Sovereign Citizen' Murdered Three Over Wood

Erick Shute was arrested June 14 in Chester County, Pennsylvania, for fatally shooting three men near the Cacapon State Park in West Virginia on June 13.

Morgan County, West Virginia, Sheriff Vince Shambaugh said that Shute was a "sovereign citizen," and said there were multiple complaints filed by Shute against his victims in the past, notes the West Virginia MetroNews Network.

According to Shambaugh, the victims -- Jack Douglas, Travis Bartley and Willie Bartley -- were murdered while they were removing wood and debris from a road that was near Shute’s property.

"He took cover behind a tree and shot these people ambush-style," Shambaugh stated, reports Herald Mail Media.

An unidentified fourth man escaped the shooting and called 911, but the shooter was not at the scene when police arrived.

According to Shambaugh, Shute was preparing for the "end of times" and tried to recruit like-minded folks. Bunkers, food, guns and bullets were found on his property.

Shute reportedly wrote a message on his Facebook page and deleted it, but a screenshot was reposted by Facebook user Wesley Swindell:

This was self defense. I talked to a cop and he even agreed this was an open and shut case of self defense and that they probably wont even pursue charges. I am just waiting to talk to the prosecutor. I have nothing to hide. Media can contact me on my cell.

I am open to talk. These guys stole over $20,000 [of my] stuff and sold it for drugs and threatened me to my face before. They even [unscrewed] my brakeline while [I] was asleep. Everyone not on drugs on the mountain hates them. These are known thieves and drug addicts.

In 2009, Shute hung an American flag upside down outside his home in Salem County, New Jersey, as some type of distress signal against the federal government, and was reportedly indicted in 2011 for attacking a cop and resisting arrest.

Shute is being held without bond at the Chester County Prison in West Chester, Pennsylvania.

Sources: West Virginia MetroNews Network, Herald Mail Media, Wesley Swindell/Facebook / Photo credit: Erick Shute/Facebook

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