FBI: 'Doomsday prepper' in custody - FOX 13 News

FBI: 'Doomsday prepper' in custody

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -  The Valrico man who allegedly vowed "another Waco" surrendered himself to federal agents peacefully this morning -- hungry and wet, but "cordial."

The FBI says Martin Winters, the so-called doomsday prepper, was accompanied by his daughter and attorney when he turned himself in to face weapons charges, ending a two-day manhunt.

The agency had been looking for the Valrico man since Monday morning after he fled from agents who were trying to pull him over. Following a chase, he was able to ditch his car and escape into the woods.

An FBI spokesman said it appeared that Winters had indeed been hiding in the woods since then.  His shoes were soaked and he was hungry and dehydrated, so agents offered him shoes, hamburgers, and drinks to recuperate.

"He was very cooperative the entire time," Special Agent Dave Couvertier said, adding that Winters declined to answer any questions.

Winters is believed to be the leader of an end-of-the-world preparation group called the “River Otter Preppers," several of whom were arrested Monday on firearms charges.

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The FBI accuses him of stockpiling dozens of rifles through illegal straw purchases.  According to a federal search warrant, he also told an undercover agent that he had built illegal destructive devices -- mostly metal tubes repurposed to shoot 12-gauge shotgun shells -- and buried them around his Valrico properties.

Winters told the agent that the devices were designed to main federal agents if they entered his property -- slowing them down long enough for him to "kill them all," the agency said.

But Winters walked into the Tampa FBI office Wednesday morning and offered himself up, to the apparent relief of agents.

"We were hoping for a peaceful resolution, and today we got that," Couvertier added.  "Violence is not the only option…we're very glad to report that this was brought to a peaceful ending and we're hoping that this will be an example for other folks out there."

The shackled Winters appeared before a federal judge this afternoon, where he was denied bond.


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