Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Armed man arrested outside school near Plant City claims to be 'sovereign citizen'

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

Armed man arrested outside school near Plant City claims to be 'sovereign citizen' 05/17/13 [Last modified: Friday, May 17, 2013 11:45pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Clearwater officer fired after investigation reveals use of unnecessary force on teen

    Public Safety

    A Clearwater police officer was fired after an internal investigation found he used unnecessary force on a teenager in custody, the agency said Wednesday.

  2. Meadowlawn Middle School teacher arrested on molestation charges


    ST. PETERSBURG — A Meadowlawn Middle School teacher was arrested Wednesday morning on charges that he molested three underage girls, police said.

    Joseph Zavalnak, 41, a Meadowlawn Middle School teacher, was arrested May 24, 2017on charges that he molested three underage girls, police said. He faces  five counts of lewd and lascivious molestation. The victims were between the ages of 12 and 18, police said. [Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]
  3. Letter from 'many' St. Petersburg High faculty, staff to Pinellas School Board pushes for assistant principal to be next principal


    A St. Petersburg High teacher sent a letter on the behalf of "many" school faculty and staff to the Pinellas County School Board and school district superintendent Mike Grego in support of appointing their assistant principal, Darlene Lebo, as principal.

    Darlene Lebo, an assistant principal at St. Petersburg High, is supported by "many" school faculty and staff to be the school's next principal, according to a letter sent to the Pinellas County School Board.
  4. 2017 Florida Theme Park Guide: A look at this summer's top attractions


    Florida's theme parks are getting ready for their busiest season with new rides, shows and perks, and we have rounded up a guide to the best new things to see.

    The newest fireworks presentation at Magic Kingdom uses lasers, lights, projections and pyrotechnics showing characters and scenes from more than 25 Disney films. [Walt Disney World]
  5. Meet 'rave pops,' the EDM-loving, hard-dancing 72-year-old who went viral via the Sunset Music Festival (w/video)

    Music & Concerts

    Alan Grofé is a 72-year-old, semi-retired entrepreneur and former tech executive with frost-white hair, two grown children and five grandchildren.

    Alan Grofe dances at the Electric Daisy Carnival festival in Orlando in 2016. [aLIVE Coverage for Insomniac]