Retired Army Sgt. Ryan J. Newell, 26, of Marion was charged Thursday with stalking anti-veteran protestors, impersonating a law enforcement officer and three counts of illegally using weapons.
According to a complaint filed in Sedgwick County he was arrested Tuesday for allegedly following members of Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka and the family of controversial church pastor Fred Phelps. He was accused of possessing an M4 military assault carbine, a .45-caliber Glock pistol and a .38-caliber Smith and Wesson pistol at the time and of falsing telling authorities he was a reserve deputy sheriff.
The church group, known for protesting at military funerals, had been at Mulvane High School for a protest Tuesday. The church claims that God is punishing the nation for immorality and that the deaths of combat veterans are evidence of this.
After a traffic stop by law enforcement, Newell allegedly told officials he was providing protection to the church group and was released. When officials were told Newell was not with the group, he was stopped again in downtown Wichita.
A man whom police identified as Newell showed identification and told a detective he was a reserve law enforcement officer in another county.
Marion County Sheriff Rob Craft verified Wednesday that he had been contacted by Sedgwick County officials and that he had told the officials Newell was not with the sheriff’s office.
After conferring with Craft, detectives returned to the area in which the vehicle had been stopped, found Newell, and arrested him.
According to arrest records, Newell was taken to Sedgwick County Jail in lieu of $500,000 bond. The charges against him are misdemeanors. His next court appearance is scheduled for Dec. 16.
Originally from Goddard, Newell has lived in Marion with his wife, Carrie, and children since losing both legs Jan. 7, 2008, in Afghanistan after an improvised bomb attack.
He was a member of Battery A, 5th Battalion, 7th Air Defense Artillery when the group was attacked. Two soldiers in a vehicle with Newell that day died.
Newell reportedly flat-lined twice during the next four days.
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