PLANT CITY — A man arrested Thursday for walking onto school property with a loaded gun told authorities he was a "sovereign citizen" and not subject to United States laws.
Bruce C. Hicks, 46, made the sovereignty claim to a Hillsborough County sheriff's deputy during the arrest outside Turkey Creek Middle School southeast of Plant City.
School resource Deputy Patrick Diaz was monitoring dismissal about 4 p.m. when he spotted Hicks walking near the school at 5005 S Turkey Road. Hicks was pushing a dolly that held an old plastic toy car, and Diaz noticed a gun holstered to his hip. Diaz called for Hicks to turn around and Hicks stepped onto school property.
Hicks told Diaz he was a sovereign citizen, a term used by people who believe federal, state, and local laws do not apply to them, nor do taxes or any other instruments of the government. Hicks told the deputy that if he is illegally detained there is a $250 fine for every 15 minutes he is held. Diaz asked him if he had a gun. Hicks said he did and repeated he is not subject to laws, according to the Sheriff's Office.
Diaz took Hicks' .32-caliber handgun without incident, the Sheriff's Office said, and found two live cartridges in it. He arrested Hicks on charges of possession of a firearm on school property, being a felon in possession of a firearm and open carrying of a weapon.
Hicks, who lives on Calhoun Road near Plant City, was convicted of molesting a child under the age of 12 in 2004, according to the state Department of Corrections. He served seven years in prison.
Hicks' name may be familiar to many local elected officials because, according to court records, he has sued many of them. Among those Hicks has sued over the years: Hillsborough Sheriff David Gee, State Attorney Mark Ober, County Judge Joelle Ober (Mark Ober's ex-wife), Clerk of Courts Pat Frank and Public Defender Julianne Holt.
Circuit Judge Charles Bergmann dismissed one such lawsuit that named all of the above.
"Petitioner's claim that he is a sovereign citizen is as frivolous as it is absurd," Bergmann wrote. "Petitioner's alleged 'sovereign citizen' status, while shielding him from the jurisdiction of statutory courts, apparently does not prevent him from wielding the same courts as a weapon to get legal relief."
Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Will Hobson can be reached at (813) 226-3400 or firstname.lastname@example.org.