Police and FBI agents are searching this morning for a doomsday prepper who slipped out of their grasp through the woods of Central Florida as they searched his property for assault weapons and explosives allegedly intended to put a murderous doomsday plan into motion.
Martin "Marty" Winters, 55, fled the FBI agents yesterday morning at his Valrico home outside Tampa, and he couldn't be found. He had been under investigation for nearly a year on suspicion that he had dozens of assault rifles, was training trusted neighbors to make improvised munitions and booby traps, and planned to kill federal agents in preparation for the apocalypse. Via WTSP-TV:
Neighbors say he has been stock-piling weapons, food and other items, preparing for the end of the world.
"He's a prepper. A preparer for the end. Because biblically, the time's right," said Tom, a friend of Winters' who was riding his motorcycle near the home Monday.
Tom says he and others would attend weekly church services held on Winters' porch, where he would quote Bible verses and cite current events suggesting the end of times is near.
Tom, was not the only neighbor who seemed more than a little sympathetic to Winters' eschatological anti-government survivalism, according to a report by local FOX 13 News:
"Marty is a good guy. He has views that are different from other people," said Vincent Bernard, who rents from Winters.
He's a doomsday prepper, according to the FBI, and he leads the "River Otter Preppers."
Officials say they're preparing for an end-of-days event.
"He loves God I know that he reads a lot of Book of Revelations," said Bernard.
But Bay News 9 reported that in addition to illegal possession of explosives and other weapons, Winters had been caught telling a federal agent he intended to use his stockpile:
According to officials, Winters told an undercover agent he had 50 AR-15 rifles buried on his property and other properties. The agent also said Winters told him he wanted to burn his house down and then shoot agents as they arrived to the scene.
Winters also said he had at least 40 men that were willing to participate in his "last stand," officials said.
Winters is still at large and apparently still among equally delusional friends in Valrico. "Any man, an American, anybody has a right to defend their property," his neighbor Tom told WTSP. "Anybody, against invasion. When anarchy kicks in, he doesn't want to expose himself to the gunfire downtown."