Heavily armed Port Angeles man who fled into ONP appears in federal court

Complaint alleges assault of woman

PORT ANGELES — A heavily armed 41-year-old Port Angeles man who fled Sunday morning into Olympic National Park’s Deer Park area appeared in federal court on Wednesday.

Caleb Jesse Chapman was booked into the Clallam County jail at 12:16 a.m. Wednesday after being taken into custody at about midnight Tuesday, authorities said.

A complaint was filed against him in federal court in Tacoma on Wednesday afternoon accusing him of assault by striking, beating or wounding, according to the complaint.

A note written by Chapman delivered Sunday to a person identified in the complaint by their initials “discussed Chapman’s grievances with the White House, his difficulty purchasing ammunition, and his belief that an imminent revolution would be occurring in the next 30 days, beginning in Texas and the Olympic Peninsula,” according to the complaint.

Chapman was armed with an AR-15 rifle and a handgun that was concealed in his rear waistband, according to the complaint.

After Chapman and a woman drove to the Deer Park campground in a white F-250 Ford pickup, arriving at 6 a.m., Chapman became upset, saying she was going to die because of the “revolution” and made suicidal comments, according to the complaint.

While arguing with her, he hit her with a soup can, causing a laceration on her leg, and grabbed her by the head, hitting her head repeatedly with a car seat, according to the complaint.

Chapman then left the campground, walked into the woods while wearing a tactical vest and armed with a semi-automatic rifle, a shotgun and multiple handguns, according to the complaint.

The woman told an investigator Chapman had been using methamphetamine and acting erratically, according to the complaint.

A Port Angeles Police Department crisis negotiation team of Sgt. Kori Malone, Cpl. Jeff Ordona and Officer Luke Brown arrived Tuesday and maintained a dialogue with Chapman before he peacefully surrendered, Police Chief Brian Smith said Wednesday in an email.

Brown talked continuously with Chapman, Smith said.

When arrested, Chapman had eight firearms in his possession, sheriff’s office Chief Criminal Deputy Brian King said. Chapman had traveled 6 or 7 miles into the park.

King said Chapman was suspected of felling trees to block entrance to and egress from Deer Park Road, which leads to Olympic National Park east of Port Angeles.

Hurricane Ridge Road, closed since Sunday, reopened Wednesday morning, while Deer Park and Obstruction Point roads remain closed as investigators processed the area, park spokesperson Penny Wagner said Wednesday afternoon.

The FBI and seven other North Olympic Peninsula and federal law enforcement agencies were involved in the three-day investigation that led to Chapman’s arrest because the incidents were on federal property.

Sheriff Bill Benedict speculated Chapman may have set a 100-foot by-100-foot fire in the park that was extinguished by firefighters.

Wagner said Wednesday afternoon in a press release that a fire of that size was reported at 4:30 a.m. Sunday near power lines on Hurricane Ridge Road above the intersection with Mount Angeles Road. The blaze was extinguished by District 2 firefighters.

She said that, on Sunday afternoon, the Blue Mountain radio repeater at Deer Park stopped functioning.

“The park is investigating whether the fire and the situation with the radio repeater are related to the incident” involving Chapman, Wagner said.

King said the entire Deer Park area is essentially a crime scene that authorities began processing at first light Wednesday.

When arrested, King said Chapman was evaluated by medics at the incident command post near the Deer Park campground area where law enforcement knew he was located.

Chapman was taken to Olympic Medical Center for a mental health evaluation before being transported to the jail, King said.

The jail roster indicates Chapman was transported at 12:27 a.m. Wednesday from the jail to the custody of federal authorities and transferred to Tacoma for a court appearance later that day in federal court, Undersheriff Ron Cameron said.

Wagner said in a Wednesday press release that the incident began Sunday morning when park staff responded to a report of a suspicious vehicle associated with two downed trees blocking access on Deer Park Road and three cut with a chainsaw.

“The vehicle was confirmed to belong to an individual reported in a 9-1-1 call to Peninsula Communications dispatch around 2 a.m. Sunday morning. It was reported that the individual was heavily armed and there were concerns regarding his behavior,” Wagner said.

Deer Park campground, Deer Park Road at the entrance to the park and Hurricane Ridge Road at the park’s Heart O’ the Hills entrance were closed Sunday due to what park officials were calling “an ongoing law enforcement incident” and were giving few details.

King said Tuesday morning the FBI and National Park Service were no longer actively searching for the man.

Along with the FBI, other agencies that participated in tracking and taking Chapman into custody were the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, Port Angeles Police Department, Port Townsend Police Department, Sequim Police Department, Olympic Peninsula Narcotics Enforcement Team, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol and the National Park Service Pacific West Special Event Team.

“The success of this response was dependent on the park working in close collaboration with the FBI and local law enforcement agencies,” park Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum said.

“We are grateful to everyone involved for the safe resolution of this difficult situation.”

Wagner had said no injuries were reported, no one was directly threatened and that park officials were unaware of any immediate threat to local residents during the incident.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].

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