ST. LANDRY PARISH, La. (KPEL News) - A man arrested in St. Landry Parish for shooting the driver of a wrecker service truck has declared himself a "sovereign citizen" and refused to be processed at the parish jail, the sheriff's office confirmed on Wednesday.

Following a manhunt for Robert Tanner, 55, of Bayou Jack Road, sheriff's officials managed to take the alleged gunman into custody, Sheriff Bobby Guidroz confirmed in a press release sent out Wednesday.

The driver of the wrecker service was shot when he drove away with Tanner's repossessed vehicle on July 16. After he was struck, the driver of the wrecker truck released the vehicle, sending it crashing into a ditch in Avoyelles Parish.

During the shooting, Tanner also struck a church and an occupied home.

"The suspect was identified as Robert Tanner, age 55, of 1180 Bayou Jack Road and considers himself a sovereign citizen," the sheriff's press release stated. "Detectives obtained an arrest warrant for the shooting and criminal damage to property in the incident."

"On July 17, 2023, SWAT members from St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office and the Opelousas Police Department served an arrest and search warrant on Tanner's home," it continued. "After a brief standoff, Tanner surrendered to authorities. Tanner was transported to the parish jail where he is still refusing to be processed and has no bond. The mugshot is from a prior arrest."

Credit: St. Landry Parish Sheriff's Office
Credit: St. Landry Parish Sheriff's Office

Tanner is also under investigation after St. Landry Parish President Jessie Bellard filed a police report in Opelousas claiming Tanner threatened him. That case is being handled by the Opelousas Police Department, the sheriff's office said.

In an interview with KATC, Guidroz explained Tanner's "sovereign citizen" claim.

He [Robert Tanner] belongs to a group of people that are anti-government and they feel that there is no such thing as law enforcement. They feel that they don't have to pay taxes, and that law enforcement can't enforce the law because of his sovereignty.

What Is The Sovereign Citizen Movement?

According to the FBI, people who claim to be sovereign citizens are considered "extremists as comprising a domestic terrorist movement, which, scattered across the United States, has existed for decades, with well-known members, such as Terry Nichols, who helped plan the Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, bombing."

Those who claim that status have been known to commit crimes ranging "from financial scams to impersonating or threatening law enforcement officials, gives reason for concern."

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