Western Montana Crime News

Jun 13, 2011 9:44 AM by Allyson Weller, Dennis Bragg (KPAX News)

Sheriff: Gunman tried to ambush deputies near Lolo

MISSOULA- Missoula County Sheriff Carl Ibsen says deputies felt like they were being led "into an ambush" on Sunday morning as they pursued David Burgert, who is a known member of the Project 7 Militia group.

Numerous agencies and deputies spent the bulk of Sunday in an area near Petty Creek, between Lolo and Albrerton, attempting to locate Burgert.

"It, for all the world, seems like he was prepared and perhaps trying to draw the officers in to a, lets call it an ambush situation, where he would have a distinct advantage on them," Ibsen told us.

Moments before Burgert opened fire on authorities, he drove by the Lumberjack Saloon off of U.S. Highway 12, and workers said he looked calm and even waved.

"We could hear sirens coming and pretty soon I could see this Jeep Cherokee coming up the road...with the highway patrol behind him, and as he got closer to us, he stuck his arm out the window and waved to us, kind of like he was on a Sunday drive," Stan Jones recalled.

Ibsen says at this point they have no reason to believe Burgert has help, but they also have no reason to believe he doesn't.

"What we do know is, by his actions and by what transpired, it looks like he was trying to kill a couple of our deputies, and fortunately was unsuccessful," the sheriff said.

For now it's an all hands on deck situation until they find Burgert and a plane with infrared capabilities was brought in to scour the area late Sunday.

Burgert is known to be armed and extremely dangerous, so anyone who spots the fugitive is asked to call 911 immediately.

He has a long history of run-ins with police and possession of firearms, including his involvement in a plot to assassinate Flathead County officials.

The gunman is known for his leadership in the Project 7 militia in Flathead County, which federal investigators say plotted to kill judges and police and start a revolution to overthrow the U.S. government.

Burgert is named in more than a dozen criminal and civil cases over the past 20 years, starting with federal bankruptcy proceedings.

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