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Father, son in Arkansas cop killings were headed home to Clearwater

The antigovernment activist and his teen son who ambushed and killed two officers and wounded two others in an Arkansas shooting spree Thursday were on their way home to Clearwater.

The father and son, Jerry Kane Jr. 45, and his 16-year-old son, Joseph, died in a subsequent gunbattle with police. A website memorializing the two is asking for donations to bury their bodies in Florida.

Arkansas police blame the Kanes for killing West Memphis Police Sgt. Brandon Paudert, 39, and Officer Bill Evans, 38, after a traffic stop alongside Interstate 40 around 11:30 a.m.

Father and son died 90 minutes later, according to police, killed in a ferocious shootout in a Walmart parking lot that left Crittenden County Sheriff Dick Busby and Deputy Chief W.A. Wren wounded.

But Clearwater resident Donna Wray, who says she became Kane's common-law wife three months ago, said she doesn't believe the police account of the shooting — or the media's depiction of her common-law husband's political beliefs.

Florida hasn't recognized common-law marriages since 1968.

"I consider there to be a lot of similarities to this and Ruby Ridge," she said, referring to the deadly 1992 standoff in Idaho between Randall Weaver and federal agents that left his wife and teen son and a U.S. marshal dead.

"The blatant, outright things that have been printed about him being a right-wing extremist have absolutely no basis whatsoever," Wray said. "He cared for everyone, no matter the color of their skin."

So what did Kane believe in? "That every city, every county, every state, every level of the federal government are for-profit corporations," Wray said, and Kane "removed himself from the corporate entity that calls itself a government."

He even carried "legal" papers with him, she said, to show that the government no longer had any authority over him. Papers she said he would have shown to any officer who pulled him over.

Kane explained his antigovernment theories and how they could be used to fight foreclosures and eliminate debt online and in person around the country.

Wray, whose Clearwater home is in foreclosure, said he traveled with an AK-47 semiautomatic rifle (for shooting practice), his only son and his two dogs, one of which was killed. An AK-47 was used in the Arkansas shootings, police said.

But authorities paint a much different picture of Kane. He's had several arrests in Ohio and in 2004 was accused of shooting a 13-year-old boy with a BB gun.

Sheriff Gene Kelly said six years ago he warned his deputies in Clark County, Ohio, that Kane was primed for violence after repeated run-ins with the law when he lived there.

"This man has been having confrontations with authority for years." Kelly told WBNS-Ch. 10 in Ohio, "and finally the result is that law enforcement paid the ultimate price for that."

Times staff writers Rodney Thrash and Drew Harwell and researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this report.

Father, son in Arkansas cop killings were headed home to Clearwater 05/22/10 [Last modified: Saturday, May 22, 2010 10:15pm]
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