A northeast Ohio “sovereign citizen” was killed this week during a shootout with deputies who were attempting to serve him with an arrest warrant.
Israel Rondon had filed a slew of lawsuits against government agencies claiming that his Second and 14th Amendment rights were violated by his arrest for carrying a concealed weapon and assaulting a police officer.
The 65-year-old Rondon identified himself as a sovereign citizen who was exempt from state and federal laws, reported the Cleveland Plain Dealer, citing principles based on British common law and obscure loopholes.
“A lot of these guys aren’t bad guys, but they really believe in this stuff,” said Nick Giegerich, an assistant prosecuting attorney in Lake County who has encountered a number of cases involving sovereign citizens, including Rondon.
Six deputies tried to serve the warrant Tuesday on a probation violation when Rondon came after them and opened fire, investigators said.
Two deputies returned fire, according to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, and one of the shots struck Rondon in the head, killing him.
An attorney who served as standby counsel for a case involving Rondon, who represented himself, described the self-identified “freeman” as “unique” and “a true libertarian,” but he never felt he was a violent person.
“His views weren’t always cogent, and they were somewhat convoluted,” said attorney Jeffrey James. “But did I feel threatened or did anyone in the court feel threatened? No. I never felt threatened by Israel. He was just an old man who had his views.”
James said Rondon had returned his driver’s license because he didn’t believe the Bureau of Motor Vehicles had the right to regulate driving.
“He basically believed in no government,” James said. “He just didn’t really put any faith or credit into any government.”
Another prosecutor who encountered Rondon during several cases described him as “intellectual, in a funny way.”
“He was approaching the law from what he thought was a studious basis,” said Middleburg Heights Prosecutor Peter Hull. “He seemed to have a real sense that an injustice was being done [to him].”
No deputies were injured during the shootout, which remains under investigation.
Watch this video report posted online by WEWS-TV: