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SPLC: Two suspects have ties to "sovereign citizens"

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LAPLACE - Two suspects in the deadly shooting of four sheriff's deputies in LaPlace have ties to a domestic terror movement called the "sovereign citizens", according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Terry Smith and Kyle Joekel were among seven people arrested in connection with a pair of shootings in St. John the Baptist Parish that resulted in the death of two sheriff's deputies and injuring of two others.

According to the SPLC, Smith identified himself as a sovereign citizen to Tennessee authorities who served him with a search warrant last November.  Several weapons were found in the search, but it wasn't clear if Smith was arrested.

The group also said law enforcement sources told them Kyle Joekel may have ties to the sovereign citizens movement.  He's wanted in Kansas and Nebraska for several charges, including drug charges.

The FBI identified "sovereign citizens" as a domestic terrorist movement back in 2011.  They believe they are not subject to government or law enforcement authority, and can choose what laws to follow or ignore.

The SPLC said in 2010 a father and son who identified themselves as sovereigns, Jerry Kane and 16-year-old Joe Kane, shot and killed two police officers in West Memphis, Ark., after they were pulled over on the interstate.  Self-described sovereign James Michael Tesi, 49, was also sentenced to 35 years in prison this past February for shooting a police officer in an altercation in Texas back in July 2011.

News 2 will have more on Smith and Joekel's backgrounds tonight starting at 5 p.m.

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