SEATTLE — A heavily armed Port Angeles man who holed up for nearly three days in Olympic National Park after warning of a revolution is being held in federal detention pending a preliminary hearing Thursday, a federal judge decided.
Magistrate Judge Theresa L. Fricke of Tacoma Federal District Court determined Tuesday that Caleb Jesse Chapman, 41, is a flight risk and danger to the community. She ruled he cannot be released while under electronic home monitoring to the custody of his mother in Forks.
Chapman, being held at the Federal Detention Center at SeaTac, has been charged under a federal statute with domestic-violence assault for allegedly striking, beating or wounding his girlfriend at about 6 a.m. Aug. 29 at the national park’s Deer Park campground area. The penalty is up to a year in jail, and he could face other federal charges.
Began at campground
Shortly after the couple arrived in Chapman’s pickup truck, they began arguing over his insistence she was going to die because of the “revolution,” according to court documents.
She said he threw an unopened soup can at her, lacerating her leg, and beat her head against a car seat after he discovered she had secretly dialed 9-1-1 during his tirade before he fled into the woods.
Chapman, who is unemployed, has a history of domestic violence protection orders filed against him beginning in 2017, Fricke said in her detention order.
She cited allegations of strangulation and physical assaults, and his verbal threat to use an AR-14 against his late wife.
“Mr. Chapman’s history of prior civil restraining orders for domestic violence shows that he has not demonstrated law-abiding behavior in the community,” Fricke said.
Federal authorities are investigating Chapman for other potential charges for incidents that occurred before the couple arrived at the campground.
He is suspected of setting an estimated 1,000-square-foot fire off Hurricane Ridge Road, cutting down a tree that blocked access on Deer Park Road to the campground, and disabling the park’s Blue Mountain Summit repeater site’s emergency radio communication system, allegedly removing power and antenna cables, according to court documents.
Chapman left the campground alone shortly after the alleged assault, dressed in a tactical vest and armed with a semi-automatic rifle, a shotgun and multiple handguns “while yelling and screaming,” the woman told authorities.
Hurricane Ridge Road and Deer Park campground, trailheads and road areas were closed to the public from the time the incident was reported until after Chapman was captured.
Over several days, park officials did not release Chapman’s name and gave few details, referred solely to “an ongoing law enforcement incident.”
A surveillance drone Chapman allegedly shot at twice spotted him at about 9 p.m. Aug. 31.
He was parked in his Ford F-250 pickup truck at the Blue Mountain Summit parking lot above the Deer Park campground, according to a court memo by the U.S. Attorney’s Office supporting his detention over release.
“Chapman fired at the [drone] with a modified Remington, Model 870, pump-action shotgun with an overall length of less than 26 inches as the stock had been removed,” it said.
Port Angeles Police Department negotiators contacted him on his cellphone and negotiated his surrender an hour later, at 9:51 p.m., to FBI agents.
In the area where he was apprehended, National Park Service officers and FBI agents seized four semi-automatic pistols, two semi-automatic rifles, a 20-gauge pump-action shotgun and 500 rounds of ammunition, they said, adding that they found two chainsaws and multiple boxes of ammunition in Chapman’s truck.
They said they also found a loaded semi-automatic pistol, radio repeater components, a park radio frequency list, a radio microphone, food, water, knives, general survival equipment and Chapman’s and his girlfriend’s identification cards, in addition to a baggie of what was believed to be methamphetamine, according to the memo.
The pistol was reported as stolen in 2017, according to the Port Angeles Police Department.
“My name is not important,” Chapman said at the beginning of a 240-word letter he allegedly wrote that was contained in court files.
“I am trying to warn all Americans who believe in Freedom … Freedom from wars fought on our land,” it said.
He had delivered a note to a person identified by the person’s initials in the federal complaint against him that “discussed Chapman’s grievances with the White House, his difficulty purchasing ammunition, and his belief that an imminent revolution would be occurring within the next 30 days,” according to the federal complaint.
“This country has lost its way and needs to get the freedom [and] rights of free speech, shooting guns because our Ancestors fought for those rights! Those freedoms [and] many others SHOULD NOT BE GOTTEN THROUGH A REVOLUTION!!!,” the letter says.
“For a year ammunition could not be bought barely, the white house was overrun, lots of media propaganda [and] countless weeks spent on B.S.
“DO IT RIGHT AMERICANS [and] WHEN THE ONES WHO SAY THEY ARE PROUD [and] WANT THOSE FREEDOMS BACK AS THEY POINT A GUN AT YOU … LOOK THEM RIGHT BACK [and] SHOOT THE SNEAKY, COWARDLY, TREASONESS PUNKS!!!”
The letter says “FUBAR NEVER CHANGED WHO HE WAS,” referring to the acronym for “[messed] Up Beyond All Repair] and ends with the words “they” are going to start a revolution in Texas and the Olympic Peninsula “within the next 30 days.”
The letter includes a roughly drawn map designating “HQ,” “Park Ave.,” “Underground?”, “Dry Creek Bunkers,” “Border Patrol.”
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].