BALTIMORE – A 61-year-old man who stockpiled ammunition and told police a race war was coming pleaded guilty Wednesday to misdemeanor weapons charges, saying he had been demonized by the media and could never expect a fair trial.
Lovell Wheeler spent nearly four months in jail after police seized gunpowder, guns and ammunition from his home. He was unrepentant Wednesday, telling Judge Lynn K. Stewart that he had been arrested on a warrant “bogus as a two-dollar bill” by “jack-booted thugs.”
Wheeler pleaded guilty to reckless endangerment, possession of more than five pounds of smokeless gunpowder, and storing smokeless gunpowder in something other than its original containers. He received a five-year suspended sentence and three years probation under the plea agreement, and was freed.
“I’m not white,” Wheeler declared, turning to face the courtroom crowded with reporters. “I’m a half-breed Indian. You can see by the shape of my face. And I’m not a member of any organization.”
Police raided Wheeler’s house July 1 and seized 62 pounds of smokeless powder, 22 guns, ammunition, body armor and weapon parts. During the raid, Wheeler handed officers literature from the National Alliance, a neo-Nazi group based in West Virginia, and told them a race war was coming, according to court documents.
He was initially granted bail of $2 million, but a judge revoked it after prosecutors argued Wheeler was a threat to the community. The case was championed by civil libertarians, who argued it was unusual and unfair for a man to be held without bail on misdemeanor charges.
Wheeler’s attorney, Brian G. Thompson, accused city police of “overly aggressive tactics” and called upon the mayor and city council to investigate their conduct.
Prosecutors said they were satisfied that Wheeler had been disarmed.
“His statements that led to the search and seizure warrant indicated he thought he was in some type of war,” said Doug Ludwig, an assistant state’s attorney. “That was the basis for his being held. Whether he still thinks he’s in a war, I don’t know. I hope not, but we’ll continue to monitor the situation.”
Wheeler agreed to forfeit the guns, ammunition and gun components seized and agreed that he will not obtain any of those items for three years.
His attorney had said Wheeler made and sold guns as a hobby and does not remember talking about a “race war.” Thompson insisted Wheeler, who has diabetes and a heart condition, is not a danger.