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Liberty Belle

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Bible-hauling motorist arrested with arsenal of loaded weapons

JIM SUHR

Associated Press

ST. LOUIS - Two sheriff's deputies checking on a motorist stopped along Interstate 70 in the predawn darkness were puzzled at first by what they found - a driver dressed like an old-time pioneer, saying he was headed for South Dakota with Bibles and "supplies" for American Indian children.
It's only after the West Virginia man got mouthy and smelled of marijuana, according to police, did the deputies uncover a staggering arsenal of firepower inside the sport utility vehicle, including loaded pistols and an assault rifle with a 30-round clip and a bullet in the chamber.
A twin-edged knife with an 8-inch blade was in the sun visor above the 46-year-old man's head, and a loaded two-shot Colt Derringer pistol was in his pocket, authorities say. Searchers seized about 400 rounds of ammunition.
"He said it was all self-protection and that it's dangerous out west," St. Charles Sheriff's Lt. Craig McGuire said Friday, a day after the traffic stop that also reportedly uncovered an array of drugs. "It's kind of bizarre, but it's all also kind of sobering."
Sobering in that investigators don't believe the collection of weaponry was purely innocent, given that he had loaded firearms within easy reach in virtually every direction, McGuire said.
"The placement indicates to us that he was well-prepared to handle any type of confronation or opposition," McGuire said as investigators continued looking into the man's background.
It's unclear whether the man is mentally ill or, when arrested, was high on marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine or perhaps heroin allegedly found in the 1995 Suburban, McGuire said.
"Obviously, there's some really bizarre behavior; that's about the best I can say at this time," he said. "But nowadays when you get bizarre behavior and you have weapons, that's a bad combination.
"There is no logical reason why a normal person with a normal outlook would have to travel I-70 with that many weapons and a knife over his visor simply for self-protection on the open road."
The man, John W. Hill of High View, W.Va., was freed Friday afternoon on $20,000 bond, accused in a warrant of a felony charge of possessing a loaded firearm while intoxicated. McGuire said the investigation continued, with more charges likely.
A woman who answered the telephone Friday at Hill's home said "we have no comment, sir" and hung up.
Authorities found a duffel bag with more than a dozen Bibles, McGuire said, recounting the encounter with Hill as follows:
About 3 a.m., two deputies approached the Suburban with West Virginia tags stopped but idling on the westbound shoulder near Wentzville, west of St. Louis.
After a deputy tapped on the SUV's driver's side window to check on the motorist, the man rolled it down. A strong odor of burned marijuana wafted out.
The man argued a bit, then was searched and arrested when a .45-caliber Derringer was found in his pocket.
The shirtless man was wearing military-style boots, cargo pants and an American Indian vest.
"I've heard him described as looking like a frontiersman or pioneer; that's what he was dressed as," McGuire said. "He said he was headed to South Dakota to take Bibles and other supplies to Indian children. The deputies said, 'Okaaaaaaaaaaaaay.'"
Inside the vehicle, officers also reportedly found a loaded .44-caliber black powder pistol sticking out of a book bag, as well as several unloaded handguns - a .357-caliber pistol among them - and two other long rifles, including a large-caliber one with a scope.
 
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